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CHAI'. • 

I. Dark Hints ... 

II. The 'Shadow' of Hartmann 

III. A Mother's Troubles 

IV. Fugitives from the Law 
V. A Strange Awakening 

VI. On the Deck of the *Attila' 

VII. The Captain of the ' Atitla ' 

VIII. A Strange Voyage 

IX. In at the Death 

X. The First Blow 

XL A Tempest of Dynamite 

XH. How I Left the * Attila ' 



... i8 

... 36 

... 46 

... 57 

... 70 

... 79 

•• 95 


... 125 

■ • 137 

... 155 




xni. In the Streets of the Burning City ... i68 

XIV. A Nocturnal Ride ... ... ... 177 

XV. The Morrow of the Disasters ... t86 

XVI. The Last of the 'Attila' ... ... 201 

With seventeen Full-Page and several smaller Illustrations, by 

Fred. T. Jane. 






All things considered, I rate October loth, 1920, 
as the most momentous day of my life. Why it 
should be so styled is not at once apparent. My 
career has not been unromantic ; during many years 
I hive rambled over the globe, courting danger 
wherever interest led me, and later on have splashed 
through shambles such as revolutions have seldom 
before been red with. More than once I have tripped 
near the cave where Death lies in ambush. I am 
now an old man, but my memory is green and vigor- 
ous. I can look back calmly on the varied spectacle 
of life and weigh each event impartially in the 
balance. And thus looking, I refer my most fateful 


experience to an hour during an afternoon convers- 
ation in my dull, dingy, severe-looking quarters in 

From romance to the commonplace is seldom a 
long trudge. On this occasion a quite commonplace 
letter determined my destiny. There was nothing of 
any gravity in the letter itself. It was a mere invita- 
tion to meet some friends. Most people would stare 
vacantly were I to show it to them. They would 
stare still more vacantly were I to say that it enabled 
me to write this terrible story. Bear in mind, however, 
that a lever, insignificant in itself, switches an express 
train off one track on to another. In a like manner 
a very insignificant letter switched me off from the 
tracks of an ordinary work-a-day mortal into those of 
the companion and biographer of a Nero. 

Some two years before the time of which I write I 
had returned to London, having completed a series 
of adventurous travels in Africa and South-West 
Asia. My foregoing career is easily briefed. Left 
an orphan of very tender years, I had grown up 
under the aegis of a bachelor uncle, one of those 
singularly good-hearted men who rescue humanity 
from the cynics. He had always treated me as his 
own son, had given me the advantages of a sterling 


education, and had finally crowned his benevolence 
by adopting me as his heir. An inveterate politician, 
he had early initiated me into the mysteries of his 
cult, and it is probably to his guidance that I owed 
much of my later enthusiasm for reform. As a 
youngster of twenty-three I could not, however, be 
expected to abandon myself to blue-books and 
statistics, and was indeed much more intent on 
amusement than anything else. Among my chief 
passions was that of travel, a pursuit which gratified 
both the acquired interests of culture and the natural 
lust of adventure. Of the raptures of the rambler I 
accordingly drank my fill, forwarding, in dutiful 
fashion, long accounts of my tours to my indulgent 
relative. Altogether I spent three or four years 
harvesting rich experience in this manner. I was 
preparing for a journey through Syria when I re- 
ceived a telegram from my uncle's doctor urging me 
immediately to return. Being then at Alexandria I 
made all haste to comply with it, only, however, to 
discover the appeal too well grounded, and the goal 
of my journey a death-bed. I mourned for my uncle's 
loss sincerely, and my natural regrets were sharpened 
when his will was read. With the exception of a 
few insignificant bequests, he had transferred his 
entire property to me. 


The period of mourning over, I was free to indulge 
my whims to the utmost, and might well have been 
regarded as full of schemes for a life of wild ad- 
venture. Delay, however, had created novel interests ; 
some papers I had published had been warmly wel- 
comed by critics ; and a new world — the literary and 
political — spread itself out seductively before me. 
Further, I had by this time seen " many cities and 
men," and the hydra-headed problem of civilization 
began to appeal to me with commanding interest. 
The teachings also of my uncle had duly yielded 
their harvest, and ere long I threw myself into 
politics with the same zeal which had carried me 
through the African forests, and over the dreary 
burning sands of Araby. I became, first a radical 
of my uncle's school, then a labour advocate and 
socialist, and lastly had aspired to the eminence of 
parliamentary candidate for Stepney. A word on 
the political situation. 

Things had been looking very black in the closing 
years of the last century, but the pessimists of that 
epoch were the optimists of ours. London even in 
the old days was a bloated, unwieldy city, an abode 
of smoke and dreariness startled from time to time 
by the angry murmurs of labour. In 1920 this 
Colossus of cities held nigh six million souls, and the 


social problems of the past were intensified. The 
circle of competence was wider, but beyond it 
stretched a restless and dreaded democracy. Com- 
merce had received a sharp check after the late 
Continental wars, and the depression was severely 
felt. That bad times were coming was the settled 
conviction of the middle classes, and to this belief 
was due the Coalition Government that held sway 
during the year in which my story opens. In many 
quarters a severe reaction had set in against Liberal- 
ism, and a stronger executive and repressive laws 
were urgently clamoured for. At the opposite ex- 
treme flew the red flag, and a social revolution was 
eagerly mooted. 

I myself, though a socialist, was averse to barri- 
cades. " Not revolution, but evolution " was the 
watchword of my section. Dumont has said that 
" the only period when one can undertake great 
legislative reforms is that in which the public passions 
arc calm and in which the Government enjoys the 
greatest stability." Of the importance of this truth 
I was firmly convinced. What was socialism ? The 
nationalization of land and capital, of the means of 
production and distribution, in the interests of a vast 
industrial army. And how were the details of this 
vast change to be grappled with amid the throes of 


revolution ? How deliberate with streets slippery with 
blood, the vilest passions unchained, stores, factories, 
and workshops wrecked, and perhaps a starving 
populace to conciliate? What man or convention 
could beat out a workable constitution in the turmoil ? 
What guarantee had we against a reaction and a 
military saviour? By all means, I argued, have a 
revolution if a revolution is both a necessary and safe 
prelude of reform. But was it really necessary or 
even safe ? 

Feeling ran high in this dispute. Many a time was 
I attacked for my " lukewarmness " of conviction by 
socialists, but never did I hear my objections fairly 
met. Though on good terms with the advanced 
party as a whole, I was opposed at Stepney by an 
extremist as well as by the sitting Conservative 
member. My chances of election were poor, but 
victorious or not I meant to battle vigorously for 
principle. To a certain extent my perseverance bore 
good fruit. During the last month I had been 
honoured with the representation of an important 
body at a forthcoming Paris Convention, and was in 
fact on the eve of starting on my journey. There 
was no immediate call for departure, but the prospect 
of a pleasant holiday in France proved overwhelm- 
ingly seductive. The Socialist Congress was fixed 


for October 20th, and I proposed to enjoy the interval 
in true sybaritic fashion. Perhaps my eagerness to 
start was not unconnected with a tenderer subject 
than either rambling or politics. Happily or un- 
happily, however, these dispositions were about to 
receive short shrift. 

It was a raw dismal afternoon, the grim fog-robed 
buildings, the dripping vehicles, and the dusky 
pedestrians below reminding one forcibly of the 
"City of Dreadful Night." Memories of Schopen- 
hauer and Thomson floated slowly across my mind, 
and the gathering shadows around seemed fraught 
with a gentle melancholy. Having some two hours 
before me, I drew my chair to the window and 
abandoned myself wholly to thought. What my 
meditations were matters very little, but I remember 
being vigorously recalled to reality by a smart blow 
on the shoulder. 

" No, Stanley, my boy, it's no use — she won't look 
your way." 

I looked up with a laugh.' A stalwart individual 
with a thick black beard and singularly resolute face 
had broken upon my solitude. 

This worthy, whose acquaintance we shall improve 
hereafter, was no other than John Burnett, journalist 


and agitator, a man of the most advanced revolution- 
ary opinions, in fact an apostle of what is generally 
known as anarchical communism. No law, no force, 
reference of all social energies to voluntary associ- 
ation of individuals, were his substitutes for the all- 
regulating executive of the socialists. He made no 
secret of his intentions — he meant to wage war in 
every effective mode, violent or otherwise, against the 
existing social system. Though strongly opposed to 
the theories, I was not a little attached to the 
theorist. He talked loudly, but, so far as I knew, 
his hands had never been stained with any actual 
crime. Further, he was most sincere, resolute, and 
unflinching — he had, moreover, once saved me from 
drowning at great risk to himself, and, like so many 
other persons of strong character, had contracted a 
warm affection for his debtor. 

That his visits to me were always welcome I 
cannot indeed say. Many rumours of revolutions 
and risings were in the air, and some terrible 
anarchist outrages reported from Berlin had made 
the authorities unusually wary. Burnett, in conse- 
quence, was a marked man, and his friends and ac- 
quaintances shone with a borrowed glory. Moderate 
as were my own views, they might conceivably be a 
blind, and this possibility had of late been officially 


recognized. It was wonderful what a visiting list I 
had, and still more wonderful that my callers so often 
chose hours when I was out. However, as they 
found that I was guiltless of harbouring explosives 
and had no correspondence worth noting, their 

attentions were slowly becoming infrequent. Burnett, 
too, had been holding aloof of late, indeed I had not 
been treated to his propaganda for some weeks. To 
what was the honour of this unexpected visit due ? 
"Off to Paris, I hear," he continued. "Well, I 


thought I might do worse than look in. I have 
something to tell you too.'* 

" My dear fellow/' I cried, " you choose your time 
oddly. I must leave this place in a trice. Mean- 
while, however, tell me where youVe been of late, and 
what this latest wrinkle is." 

" I ? Well, out of London. If you had not been 
rushing off at short notice I might have spoken more 
to the point. You can't stay a couple of days longer, 
can you ? Say yes, and I will engage to open your 
eyes a bit." 

" No, I fear I can't : the Congress is not till the 
20th, but meantime I want rest. I am positively 
done up. Time enough, however, later on." 

Burnett laughed. *' It is worth while sometimes to 
take time by the forelock. Look here, I am bound 
hand and foot at present, but this I will say, your 
congresses and your socialism — evolutionary, revolu- 
tionary, or what not — are played out" 

" I think I have heard that remark before," I some- 
what coldly rejoined ; " still, say what you like, you 
will find that we hold the reins. I won't say any- 
thing more of the practicability of anarchism, we 
have talked the matter over ad natiseam. But this 
I will say. Coraipared with us you are a handful 
of people, politically speaking of no account, and 


perhaps on the whole best left to the attention of 
the police. Forgive my bluntness, but to my 
mind, your crusade, when not absurd, appears only 

" As you like," said Burnett doggedly ; " the world 
has had enough barking — the time for biting has 
come. Restrain your eloquence for a season, and 
ril promise you a wonderful change of convictions." 

"What, have your Continental friends more 
wrecking in hand ? What idiocy is this wretched 
campaign ! It converts no one, strengthens the 
hands of the reactionaries, and, what is more, 
destroys useful capital. Why, I say, injure society 
thus aimlessly ? " 

*' Curse society ! " — and a heavy fist struck my 
writing-table — " I detest both society as it is and 
society as you hope it will be. To-day the capitalist 
wolves and a slavish multitude ; to-morrow a corrupt 
officialism and the same slavish multitude, only with 
new masters. But about our numbers, my friend, you 
think that we must be politically impotent because 
we are relatively so few. We count only our thou- 
sands where you tot up your millions of supporters. 
Obviously we could hardly venture to beard you 
after the established orthodox fashion. But suppose, 
suppose, I say, our people had some incalculable 


force behind them. Suppose, for instance, that the 
leaders of these few thousands came to possess some 
novel invention — something that — that made them 
virtual dictators to their kind" — and looking very 
hard at me he seemed to await my answer with 

" Suppositions of this sort are best kept for novels. 
Besides, I see no scope even for such an invention — 
it is part of the furniture of Utopia. But, stay ! was 
not this invention the dream of that saintly dynamiter 
Hartmann also ? Hartmann ! Now there's a typical 
case of genius wasted on anarchy. A pretty story is 
that of your last martyr — tries to blow up a prince 
and destroys an arch and an applewoman. For the 
life of me I can't see light here ! " 

" All men bungle sometimes," growled the revolu- 
tionist, ignoring the first part of my reply ; " Hart- 
mann with the rest — ten years ago was it ? Ah ! he 
was young then. But mark me, my friend, don't call 
people martyrs prematurely. You think Hartmann 
went down with that vessel — permit me to express a 

" Well," I responded, " it matters little to me any- 
how, but, anarchy apart, how that poor old mother of 
his would relish a glimpse of him, if what you hint at 
is true ! " 


He nodded, and involuntarily my thoughts ran 
back to the days of 1910, when my uncle read me, 
then a mere boy, the account of Hartmann's outrage. 

As Hartmann's first crime is notorious I run some 
risk of purveying stale news. But for a younger 
generation it will suffice to mention the attempt of 
this enthusiast to blow up the German Crown Prince 
and suite when driving over Westminster Bridge on 
the occasion of their 19 10 visit. Revenge for the 
severe measures taken against Berlin anarchists was 
the motive, but by some mischance the mine ex- 
ploded just after the carriages had passed, wreaking, 
however, terrible havoc in the process. My sneer about 
the applewoman must not be taken too seriously, for 
though it is quite true that one such unfortunate 
perished, yet fifty to sixty victims fell with her in the 
crash of a rent arch. There was a terrible burst of 
indignation from all parts of the civilized world and 
the usual medley of useless arrests ; the real culprits, 
Hartmann and his so-called "shadow" Michael 
Schwartz, escaping to sea in a cargo-boat bound for 
Holland. The boat went down in a storm, and, 
failing further news, it was believed that all on board 
had gone down with her. Hartmann was known to 
have possessed large funds, and tliesealso presumably 
lined the sea-bottom. Such was the official belief, 


and most people had agreed that the official belief 
was the right one. 

I should add that among Hartmann's victims must, 
in a sense, be classed his mother. At the time of 
which I am now writing she was leading a very 
retired but useful life in Islington, where she spent 
her days in district-visiting and other charitable work. 
She still wore deep mourning, and had never, so it 
seemed, got over the shock caused by the appalling 
crime and early death of her son. Burnett knew her 
very well indeed, though she scarcely appreciated his 
visits. I was myself on excellent terms with the old 
lady, but had not seen her for some weeks previous 
to the conversation here recorded. 

My time running fine, Burnett shortly rose to go. 

" Be sure,** he said, " and look me up early on your 
return. Mischief, I tell you, is brewing, and how soon 
I shall have to pitch my camp elsewhere I hardly 

He was moving to the door when my landlady 
entered with a note. She had probably been listening 
to the conversation, for she glanced rather timorously 
at my guest before depositing her charge. 

" Wait one moment, Burnett, and Til see you out," 
said I, as I hastily broke the envelope. Yes, there 
was no mistaking the hand, the missive was really 


from my old friend, Mrs. Northerton. Its contents 
were fated to upset my programme. Only two days 
back I had arranged to meet the family in Paris at 
the express invitation of her husband, a genial old 
Liberal who took a. lively interest in my work. This 
arrangement now received its death-blow. 

"3, Carshalton Terrace^ Bayswater, 

"Dear Mr. Stanley, 

"We have just returned from Paris, where 
we had, as you know, intended to stay some time. 
Old Mr. Matthews, whom you will recollect, died 
about a fortnight ago, leaving the Colonel one of his 
executors. As the estate is in rather a muddled con- 
dition, a good deal of attention may be necessary, 
so we made up our minds to forego the rest of our 
trip for the present. I shall be * at home ' to-morrow 
afternoon, when we shall be delighted to see you. 
With best wishes from all. 

" Always yours sincerely, 

"Maude C. Northerton. 

" P.S. — Lena comes in for a bequest of ;£'sooo in 
Mr. Matthews's will." 

Lena in London ! This was quite decisive. 

" Excuse me, Burnett," I said, turning to my neg- 


lected friend ; " but this letter is most important. A 
nice business pickle I am in, I can tell you." 

" What nicely-scented note-paper your business 
correspondents use. You have my deep sympathies. 
Well, farewell for the present." 

" Don't be in a hurry," I said ; " I am afraid I must 
postpone this Continental trip after all. Business is 
business, whoever one's informant may be. No, I 
must really knock a few days off my rest." 

Burnett stared, and concluded that something 
really serious was on hand. 

" So you will be available for two or three days 
longer. That being so, I shall expect to see you at 
the old place about eight o'clock to-morrow evening. 
Be sure and come, for I have a guest with me of 
peculiar interest to both of us. His name ? Oh ! 
don't be impatient. It is a fixture, then ? All right. 
No, I can't stay. Good-night." 

I laughed heartily after I had seen him out. What 
a chequered life, what curious connections were mine 
— now a jostle with fashion, now with fanatics of 
anarchy like Burnett. Travelling, it is said, planes 
away social prejudices, and certainly in combination 
with Karl Marx it had done so in my case. Many 
friends used to rally me about my liking for the 
haunts of luxury, ap-^ *?Qme even went so far as to 


say it was of a piece with my other " lukewarm " 
doctrines. The answer, however, was ready. 1 hated 
revolution, and I equally hated the pettiness of a 
sordid socialism. We must not, I contended, see the 
graces of high life, art and culture, fouled by the 
mob, but the mob elevated into a possession and 
appreciation of the graces. It was just because 1 
believed some approach to this ideal to be possible 
that I fought under the banners of my party, and 
forewent travel and independence in the interests of 
the wage-slave. That I was no Orator Puff I yearned 
for some opportunity to show. Cavillers would have 
then found that my money, my repute, and, if needful, 
my life, were all alike subservient to the cause 1 had 
at heart. 

That night, however, lighter visions were to beguile 
my thoughts. When 1 dwelt upon once more meet- 
ing Miss Northerton, even Burnett's sombre hints lost 
their power to interest me. And when later on I did 
find time to sift them, they received short shrift at my 
hands. Bluster in large part, no doubt, was my verdict 
as I turned into bed that night. However, to-morrow 
I should be in a better poiHtion to judge. The inter- 
view would, at any rate, prove interesting, for Burnett's 
anarchist friends, however desperate, would furnish 
material in plenty for a stud f human nature. 


THE * shadow' of HARTMANN. 

It was with a light heart that I made my way to 
the Northertons' the following afternoon. The pros- 
pect of a chat with the smart old gentleman and his 
ladies was delightful, and my only apprehensions 
concerned the assemblage I possibly might find there. 
As a rule receptions of this sort are tedious ; prolific 
only of dyspepsia and boring conversations. Upper 
middle-class mediocrity swarms round Mammon, and 
Mammon, the cult of the senses apart, is uninterest- 
ing. With Mill I was always of opinion that the 
thinker is corrupted by the pettinesses of ordinary 
" social " intercourse. True, one occasionally meets 
a celebrity, but celebrities who are not professional 
talkers are best left unseen — their repute usually so 
outshines their deportment and conversation. Still, 
the celebrity is tolerable provided that not too much 
incense is required. The same .thing cannot be said 


of the camp-foIlowing of mediocrities : of contact 
with this the effects may be as serious as they will 
certainly prove painful to a well-wisher of the human 
species. Happily, I rarely suffered at the Norther- 
tons*. Ever and anon lions stalked through their 
premises, and the legions of well-to-do imbeciles 
thronged them. But there was generally the host or 
hostess to fall back upon, to say nothing of the com- 
panionship of Lena, to whom, if the secret must be 
revealed, I had for some time been engaged. The 
understanding was for the present to be privy to 
ourselves, but I had no reason to suppose that her 
worthy parents would have cause to object to the 
match. My politics, which might have scared most 
people of their standing, merely interested the ex- 
commissioner and were wholly indifferent to his wife. 
But still it was satisfactory to think that Lena would 
shortly come of age, and that our joint means would 
be sufficient to enable us to ignore any probable 
obstacles. Old Mr. Matthews's legacy had removed 
the last formidable barrier. 

Two years before I had the good fortune to meet 
the family, on that memorable occasion when I was 
so hurriedly summoned from Egypt. The promenade 
deck of a P. and O. steamer offers boundless facilities 
for forming friendships, and during the brief interval 


which bridged my start from Suez and arrival at 
London, 1 was not slow in harvesting these advan- 
tages to the full. Old Mr. Northerton was returning 
home after serving his time in the Indian Civil Ser- 
vice, and with him were his wife, his two sons, and an 
only daughter. My singular interest in the family 
hinged mainly on the latter, a charming young girl 
of some eighteen summers. What that interest cul- 
minated in I have already said. It only remains to 
add that the cordial relations set up between the 
family and myself were never allowed to drop. The 
two sons were now serving on the Indian Staff Corps, 
but I corresponded with them ever and anon, and 
even reckoned the younger among my numerous 
socialist proselytes. Old Northerton was well aware 
of tfhis, and though himself a Liberal of the old school, 
hadf" no reproach for the teacher. After all a "sub" 
reading Karl Marx under the punkahs of Dum-Dum 
was scarcely a formidable convert. 

A short walk carried me to the terrace, and ere 
long 1 was being warmly greeted by the only three 
available members of the family. Mrs. Northerton 
was too busy with her guests to pay me much atten- 
tion, so after a few explanations and regrets for the 
spoilt trip, I was borne off in charge of the genial 


"Well, how go your election prospects?" he said, 
as cheerily as if my programme favoured his class. 

" Not as well as I could wish. They say I am too 
moderate for the constituency. You know, of course, 
that Lawler, a * blood and thunder' tub-thumper, is 
standing against me in the interests of the extreme 

"So I hear, but I should scarcely have thought he 
would have stood a chance." 

" On the contrary, I assure you he speaks for a 
numerous and very ugly party — a party which arrears 
of legislation have done as much as anything to 
create. Talking of this, I am not at all sure that we 
may not have trouble before long. I shall do my 
best to have the peace kept, but there's no knowing 
to what the more reckless agitators may drive the 

" There I agree with you, sir," broke in an acute- 
looking old gentleman with spectacles ; " but how do 
you reconcile that opinion with your own doctrines } 
How can you speak and write for socialism when 
you grumble at its practical enforcement } You state 
that you oppose revolution, but is a constitutional 
settlement of the problem possible } " 

" Why not ? You must remember that a large 
section of us socialists is against revolution. Looking 


back at the graduated nature of the transition between 
feudalism and modern capitah'sm, these men would 
meditate, if possible, a similar though perhaps more 
rapid transition between modern capitalism and 
socialism. Any sudden metamorphosis of society 
would, they believe, breed appalling evils. I ami 
quite of this way of thinking myself." 

My interlocutor laughed. He evidently thought me 
a reasonable enough creature for my kind. The com- 
missioner remarked that it was a pity that all the 
party were not of my way of thinking. 

•* But," I added, " I have no hesitation in saying 
that if I thought a revolution would pay, for revolu- 
tion I would declare myself It is only a question of 
cost complicated by dangers of reaction and anarchy. 
The consideration which weighs most with me is the 
difficulty of organizing and legislating at a time 
when panic and brutality would be rampant. I know 
no men competent to stand at the helm in such 
tempests. Even with civil peace to help us, a settle- 
ment would require, to my thinking, years of patient 
labour. Mere revolutionary conventions, with some 
ready-made constitution and brand-new panaceas for 
suffering, would be impotent." 

"Impotent," echoed the old gentleman. "By the 
way, you have not answered my question." 


" The object, sir, of my agitation is to force the 
projected reforms on public attention, and so to 
secure that most important of allies, an effective mob- 
backing. But let me add that once elected to Parlia- 
ment I am prepared to stand by anj^ Government, 
Tory or Radical, in supporting the cause of order. 
We contend that should the revolutionary socialists 
or the anarchists initiate a crusade in the streets, they 
must take the consequences of their temerity." 

" Well said," observed the ex-commissioner. " I 
notice in this regard that some very disquieting 
rumours are afloat. Not only are many of the East 
and South London workers becoming dangerous, but 
these miscreants, the anarchists, are moving. You 
remember the fiendish massacre ten years back when 
Hartmann blew up the bridge .^" 

" Rather." 

"Well, the police have had information that this 
wretch is not dead after all. At the present moment 
he is believed to be in England stirring up more 

" The deuce he is ! " cried the old gentleman. " I 
hope they will run him to earth." 

At this point our colloquy was broken off by Lena, 
who sailed gracefully through the crowd. 

" I want you for a moment, Mr. Stanley. A friend 


of mine, Mrs. Gryffyn, is very anxious to make your 
acquaintance. She's mad about land law reform and 
women's suffrage." 

The old gentleman grinned and Mr. Northcrton 
eyed me pityingly. There was no escape from the 
inquisitor. " Why on earth couldn't you spare me 
this, Lena ? " I whispered. " I want a talk with you 
all alone, not an hour with this virago." 

*'Oh, it's all right. I shall keep you company, and 
as she is going soon we shall be able to get into a 
quiet nook and have a long chat." 

The ordeal over, I had the luxury of a tete-d-tete 
with my fianc^e^ and excellent use I made of the 
limited time at my disposal. I was very fond of 
Lena, who was not only a charmingly pretty girl, 
but, thank goodness ! sympathized most cordially with 
the bulk of my political opinions. She never of 
course mixed with the peculiar circles I frequented, 
but dearly loved to follow my reports of the move- 
ments which they represented. The only person 
remotely connected with them she knew was Mrs. 
Hartmann, to whose house I had brought her in the 
hope that the old lady might find a friend. Lena 
was often to be seen in the little parlour at Islington, 
and knew probably more about the poor widow's 
troubles than any one else. As her parents gave her 


complete freedom of action, she had plenty of oppor- 
tunities for cultivating the acquaintance. After our 
private confidences had been duly exchanged, the 
conversation naturally drifted to this topic. I was 
anxious to know about the old lady's welfare, and 

casually mentioned the rumour which concerned her 
son. Had it reached her ears ? " 

" I am sure I don't know." said Lena ; " she seemed 
in marvellously good spirits when I saw her last, but 
she made no allusion whatever to the subject. How 
could she, when you come to think of it ? It is all 
very well rejoicing over a prodigal son's return, but 


this son was a fiend, and would be much better lying 
quiet at the bottom of the sea, where people imagined 

" But you forget, dear, that he was her only son, and 
always good to her." 

" That's true, but look at the blood on his hands. By 
the bye, Mrs. Hartmann once told me the whole story. 
Hartmann, you know, was educated for the profession 
of an engineer, and was always looked on as a prodigy 
of intellectual vigour. Whatever he did he did well, 
and as he came into a considerable fortune when of 
age, a brilliant career was predicted for him. Mrs. 
Hartmann says that at that time she never knew he 
had any other interests than those of his calling, but 
it appears from later discoveries that when twenty- 
three years of age he made the acquaintance of a 
German exile, one Schwartz, a miscreant of notorious 
opinions and character. This man gradually inspired 
him with a hatred of the whole fabric of society, and 
the end of it was that he became an anarchist. That 
Hartmann was deeply in earnest seems perfectly clear. 
He sacrificed to his aim, position, comfort, reputation, 
his studies — in short, everything. He regarded civiliz- 
ation as rotten fi om top to foundation, and the present 
human race as * only fit for fuel.' Schwartz was a pessi- 
mist, and his pupil became one of an even deeper dye." 


" But what was his ultimate aim ? *' 

" He thought, like some eighteenth-century writers, 
that man must revert to simpler conditions of life and 
make a new start. He hoped, so his mother says, 
that his example would fire the minds of others, and 
so topple over the very pedestals of governments 
and law. It was absurd, he held, for a few men to 
war against society, but, he added, the affection he 
laboured under was catching. He trusted that one 
day London and the great cities of Europe would lie 

in ruins." 

" But," I interposed, " this is fanaticism, or rather 
madness. It is a disease bred by an effete form of 
civilization. Is this all the wily anarchist plotted 
for } " 

"Well, it's a pretty large *all,' is it not } By the 
way, he had one persistent craze, the belief in some 
invention which was one day to place society at his 

" So } Awkward that for society." 

Wc talked for some time longer, When I called my 
appointment to mind, and tearing myself away from 
my kind friends sallied forth into the street. It was 
not easy to refuse the ex-commissioner's invitation to 
dinner in view of Burnett's dismal parlour at Stepney. 
Still I was not a little interested in his guest, and 


anxious, so far as was possible, to keep Burnett him- 
self out of mischief. Hitherto he had been a mere 
theorist with a very kindly side, and there seemed no 
reason why, with care, he should not remain one. 
But he required, so 1 thought, watching. With these 
thoughts uppermost in my mind 1 hailed a hansom, 
and ordered the driver to drop me in the East End 
in a road running hard by the anarchist's houre. 

^ ^ 4( * ^ * 

I can recall my entrance inlo that parlour most 
vividly. Burnett had let me in with his usual caution. 
Whisking off my coat I followed him to the parlour. 
There was a bright fire burning in the grate, and the 
gleam of the flames — the only light in the room — lit 
up a whisky-bottle and some glasses on the table, and 
ever and anon revealed the rude prints on the vyalls 
and the rough deal shelves heaped with books. 
Everything smelt of the practical. In the place of 
the Louis XIV. furniture of the Northertons' only a 
wooden table and some three or four deal chairs met 
the eye, the sole; article rejoicing in a cushion being a 
rudely-carved sofa in. the corner. The single window, 
I noticed, was carefully curtained and barred. Step- 
ping toward the mantelpiece Burnett struck a match, 
and proceeded to light a couple of candles which 
crowned that dusty eminence. 


I then saw to my surprise that we were not alone. 
On a chair by the left-hand corner of the fire saj an 
elderly man apparently of the higher artisan class. 
His face was most unprepossessing. There was a 
bull-dog's obstinacy and attachment about it, but the 
eyes were unspeakably wicked and the mouth hard 
and cruel. I diagnosed it at once as that of a man 
whose past was best unread, whose hand had in dark 
by-ways been persistenly raised against his fellow- 
men. It takes time to analyze this impression, but 
originally it seized me in a moment. I was preju- 
diced, accordingly, at the outset, but judge of my 
astonishment and disgust when Burnett cried, " Here, 
Schwartz, is my old pal Stanley." It was the shame- 
less miscreant known as the shadow of Hartmann ! 

Coldly enough I took the proffered hand. So this 
was the fanatic supposed to be long ago dead. One 
felt like abetting a murderer. 

" Stanley seems startled," laughed Burnett. '* He 
is not much accustomed to high life. Come, man, 
acknowledge you had a surprise." 

The meeting was half of my seeking, and decency 
after all forbade openly expressed dislike. Besides, 
Schwartz was in practice only what Burnelt was in 
theory, and what possibly even I and other moderates 
might become at a pinch. 


" I confess," I replied, "I was taken somewhat aback. 
It is seldom the sea gives up its dead, and one does 
not meet celebrities like Herr Schwartz every day.'* 

Schwartz laughed grimly. I could see he was 
pleasantly tickled. Monstrous conceits sprout from 
the shedding of blood. He seemed to chuckle that 
he, outcast and rebel, had hurled so many of his 
fellows into nothingness. If this was the man, what 
of the master } 

" Fill up your glass, Stanley," and Burnett pushed 
the whisky across the table. " Sit down and ask what 
questions you like." 

Schwartz looked me carefully over. " You say again 
that you answer for this friend," he muttered to Burnett. 

" As 1 would for myself" 

« It is well." 

" Hartmann is alive then," I ventured, " after all ? " 

" Very much so," put in Burnett. " The most he 
got was a wetting. He and Schwartz were picked up 
by a fishing-boat and carried to Dieppe. Hence they 
made their way to Switzerland, where they have been 
for some years. Hartmann had money, Schwartz 
devotion. Money bred money — they grew rich, and 
they will yet lead anarchy to triumph, for at last, 
after long years of danger, delay, and disappoint- 
ment, the dream of Hartmann is realized ! " 


My companions exchanged meaning glances. Evi- 
dently they were in high spirits. 

" And the deputy, the sociah'st, will he join us } " 
cried Schwartz. " He will have no struggles, no 
dangers ; he will tread capital underfoot ; he will 
raise his hand, and fortresses will rattle around him." 

Both the anarchists broke into renewed laughter. 
I was tired of hyperbole aiid wished to get at the 
facts. But do what I would my men refused to be 
" squeezed." For a long time I could only glean 
from them that Hartmann was in London, and plot- 
ting mischief on some hitherto unimagined scale. At 
last I grew irritated at the splutter. 

" Nonsense, Herr Schwartz, nonsense ! Stir a step 
worth the noting and the very workers will rise and 
crush you. I tell you your notions are fantastic, 
your campaign against society maniacal. How can 
a few scattered incendiaries or dynamiters, ceaselessly 
dodging the law, hope to defy a state ? The thing 
is ridiculous. As well match a pop-gun against a 
Woolwich infant." 

" My friend speaks of a struggle such as one man 
might wage against a mob in the street. It is not for 
this that Hartmann has plotted so long. It is not to 
be shot by soldiers or hunted by police that he will 
once more shake this city. Do you wish to guess his 



weapon ? Take this piece of stuff in your hand, and 
tell me what you think of it" 

As he spoke he rummaged his pockets and pro- 
duced a small plate, apparently of silvery grey metal, 
of about two square inches of surface, and one-tenth 
of an inch or so in thickness. I examined it carefully. 

" Now take this steel knife and hammer and test its 
hardness and texture." I did so. Burnett looked on 

" Well, it is extremely tough and hard, for I can 
make no impression. What it is, however, I can't 

" But its weight, itsAveight ! * said Burnett. 

I must have changed colour. " Why, it is as light 
or lighter than cardboard. What an extraordinary 
combination of attributes ! " 

" Extraordinary indeed ! It is the grandest of 
Hartmann's strokes ! But you cannot guess its use ? " 

I shook my head. 

"Well, suppose you try to think it out between 
now and Saturday night, when I will promise to 
introduce you to the inventor himself." 

" What, Hartmann ? " 

" Yes ; let us see, you address a meeting down at 
Turner's Hall in this quarter on Saturday. I will be 
in the audience, and we will beard the captain in 


company. Midnight, Kensington Gardens, by the 
pond to the left as you enter from the Queen's Road 
— that is the rendezvous. Come, are you ready ? I 

think I may tell you that you will run no risks, while 
at any rate you will see something strange beyond 


I hesitated, the mystery was deepening, and to con- 
front and " have it out " with the celebrated, if hateful, 
anarchist, would be interesting. And these queer 
hints too ? 

" Yes, Tm your man ; but we must have no com- 
panions — for obvious reasons." 

Burnett nodded. Shortly afterwards the obnoxious 
German took his departure and left us to ourselves. 
I am not sure that he quite trusted my intentions, 
for the dread of the police spy was ever present 
with him. 

We two talked on till midnight. On rising to go 
I made a final effort to " squeeze " the anarchist. 

" Come, John, it*s no use playing the mystery man 
any longer. I shall know everything by Saturday 
night, or rather Sunday morning. You trust me with 
your other secrets, trust me with this ; at any rate, a 
three days' interval can't make much difference." 

Burnett thought a moment, stepped to his shelves, 
and took down a work of somewhat antique bind- 
ing. It was from the pen of a nineteenth-century 
savant of high repute in his day.^ Slowly, and with- 
out comment, he read me the following passage : — 
" Yet there is a real impediment in the way of man 

^ Duke of Argyll, Reign of Law, 


navigating the air, and that is the excessive weight of 
the only great mechanical moving powers hitherto 
placed at his disposal. When science shall have 
discovered some moving power greatly lighter than 
any we yet know, in all probability the problem will 
be solved." 

The silvery grey substance /md solved it ! 

A mother's troubles. 

A RAW London morning is a terrible foe to romance 
— visions that have danced elf-like before the view on 
the foregoing night tend to lose their charm or even 
to merge themselves wholly in the commonplace. So 
it was with me. When I came down to breakfast 
and reviewed the situation calmly, I was ready to laugh 
at my faith in what seemed the wild vagaries of 
Schwartz and Burnett. The memory of the queer 
little parlour and its queerer tenants had lost its over- 
night vividness and given place to a suspicion that 
either I or my hosts had indulged too freely in whisky. 
The little plate, however, was still in my possession, 
and this very tangible witness sufficed, despite a grow- 
ing scepticism, to give me pause. "A striking discovery 
no doubt," was my verdict, " but the dream of Hart- 
mann, as Burnett calls it, is not so easily realized.** 

Still I should know all — if anything worth the mention 


was to be known — on Saturday night if I showed up 
at the odd trysting-place named by Burnett — a 
trysting-place which at that hour meant a scramble 
over palings, and a possible trouble with the police. 
But these things were trifles. All things considered, 
I should do well to present myself with or without 
Burnett, for the boasted aeronef apart, the threats of 
the anarchists had begun to perplex nie mightily, 
and the wish to meet their notorious leader, the so 
terrible son of my old friend Mrs. Hartmann, was not 
to be summarily exorcised. 

I had passed the morning in study. Luncheon 
over, I jotted dbwn some notes for my speech on 
the following Saturday. Next, I sent Lena a note 
promising to look in on" Sunday afternoon, sallied out 
with it to the post, and then ensconced myself in an 
omnibus which Was plying in the direction of Isling- 
ton. Whither was I bound } For the house of my 
friend Mrs. Hartmann, whom, as already mentioned, 
I had not seen for some time, and whose conversation 
just now might be fraught with peculiar interest. Had 
the son as yet seerr the mother I Had any inkling 
of these vaguely discussed new plots reached her ? 
Had she any clue to the mystery tapped over-night ? 
Questions such as these surged up in dozens, and I de- 
termined, if possible, to feel my way to their answers. 


It was late in the afternoon when I reached Mrs. 
Hartmann's modest villa in Islington. The maid 
who admitted me said that she was not at home, 
having gone to visit a sick child in the neighbour- 
hood. She expected her back to tea, and meanwhile 
perhaps I would like to wait. There was clearly no 
resource open to me but to do so, and entering the 
narrow hall I was shown into a drawing-room, simply 
but withal not uncomfortably furnished. The bay 
window which lighted the apartment looked on to a 
neat grass-plot diversified by some small but well- 
kept parterres. 

' There was little within to catch the eye. Explor- 
ing the walls I came across a shelf full of musty 
books, mathematical and engineering text-books, and 
a variety of treatises on political economy and the 
sciences, evidently mementos of the son ! While 
glancing through some and noting the numerous 
traces of careful study, the thought struck me that 
the photograph of their misguided possessor might 
also be accessible. I had been many times in the 
room before, but had never been favoured with the 
old lady's confidences on the score of her son. The 
wound caused by his crime was ever green, and I, at 
least, was not cruel enough to disturb it. However, 
being now left alone I resolved to consult her albums. 


which, at any rate, might serve to while away the 
hour. Loosening the clasp of one that lay near to 
hand, I turned over its leaves rapidly. As a rule, I 
dislike collections of this sort; there is a prosiness 
peculiar to albums which forbids incautious research. 
But here the hunt was of interest. True, there were 
mediocre denizens in plenty, shoals of cousins, sisters, 
and aunts, hordes of nonentities whom Burnett would 
have dubbed only " fit for fuel," but there was 
discoverable one very satisfactory tenant — a loose 
photograph marked on the back, "R. Hartmann, 
taken when twenty-three years of age," just about the 
time of the celebrated bridge incident. 

It was the face of a young man evidently of 
high capacity and unflinching resolution. A slight 
moustache brushed the upper lip, and set off a clear- 
cut but somewhat cruel mouth. A more completely 
independent expression I never saw. The lineaments 
obscured by time defied accurate survey, but the 
general effect produced was that they indicated an 
arbitrary and domineering soul, utterly impatient of 
control and loftily contemptuous of its kind. 

I was carefully conning the face when 1 heard the 
garden-gate creak on its hinges, a sound followed by 
the rattle of a latch-key in the lock of the front door. 
Mrs. Hartmann had returned. Passing into the room, 


she met me with a pleasant smile which showed up 
in curious contrast to the look of depression so 
familiar to me of yore. I interpreted that brightness 
in an instant. Hartmann had returned, and had paid 
her the visit of one raised from the dead. But of his 
terrible designs, of his restless hatred of society, he 
had clearly told her nothing. 

Hers was an expressive face, and the shadows 
upon it were few enough to warrant that inference. 
Probably he had smoothed over the past and fooled 
her with some talk of a reformed life and a changed 
creed. It is so easy for an only son to persuade a 
mother — particularly when he rises after long years 
from a supposed grave. 

" Well, Mr. Stanley, you are the last person I 
expected to see. I heard yoii were to be in Paris 

"So, my dear Mrs. Hartmann, I was, but the 
Northertons, you see, have returned, and I had hoped 
to have done some touring with the old gentleman." 

" Or perhaps with Miss Lena. No, don't look so 
innocent, for she tells me more than you think. But 
what of this return ? I had a note from her when 
she was in Paris, but she said nothing about it ? " 

" Some will business," I explained. " You will be 
glad to hear she comes in for ;f 5000 by it." 



" A nice little nest-egg to begin house-keeping 
upon. I think, Mr. Stanley, you two young people 
ought to do very well." 

" I hope so," I said, foregoing useless secrecy — 
what a chatterbox Lena could be ! "At any rate I 
see no very dangerous rocks ahead at present,"^ 

The conversation wandered for some time among 
various topics, when I mentioned that I had been 
looking over the album. 

"And very stupid work you must have found it," 
she said. 

" Oh, it kept me busy while waiting. By the way. 


one of the photographs is loose," and I handed her 
that of her son, this time with the face upwards. 
The ruse was effective, and the conversation took the 
desired course. 

" Have you never seen that face before } It is that 
of Rudolf, my misguided son, of whom you must have 
heard. Poor boy! Ten years have rolled by since 
his death.*' 

Admirably cool this mother ; she at least was not 
to be " squeezed " offhand. But my watched-for 
chance had come. 

" My dear Mrs. Hartmann, he is alive, and you 
know it. Two days ago he was in this very house." 
I had drawn my bow at a venture, but the shaft 
served me well. The co2ip was decisive. The old 
lady's face betrayed complete discomfiture mingled 
with obvious signs of alarm. She made no attempt 
to contradict me. " What ! " she stammered out at 
length. " Are you also in the secret ? Are you, too, 
one of " 

" No," I replied bluntly, anticipating her meaning. 
" I have never met your son, though I know some- 
thing perhaps of his movements. But believe me 
you may trust me as you would yourself He was a 
dynamitard, but he is your son, and that is enough 
for me. Rest assured of my silence." 


Her distress visibly abated. 

" Thanks, many thanks. I feel I can rely on you 
— even to lend him a helping hand should the time 
ever come. Ah ! he is a changed man, an entirely 
changed man. A bright future may await him even 
now across the sea. But this visit to me — so sudden, 
so brief — I fear lest it may cost him dear. You, a 
private man, have found it out ; why may not the 
lynx-eyed police also ? It is terrible, this suspense. 
How can I be sure that he is safe at this moment ? " 

** Oh, as to that, happily I can reassure you. Your 
son is safe enough — nay, as safe as the most anxious 
mother could desire. How or where I cannot say, 
but I have it on the best possible authority. In fact, 
only last night I heard as much from the lips of one 
who should surely know — Michael Schwartz himself!" 

" That evil genius ! Is he too in London ? Ah ! if 
he is content, all is well. No tigress ever watched 
better over her cub than Schwartz over my son. 
Would his likings had blown elsewhere ! That man 
was my son's tutor in vice. But for him Rudolf 
might have been an honour to his country. And 
what is he now ? An outlaw, in the shadow of the 
gallows," — and she hid her face in her handkerchief 
and wept bitterly. I waited patiently till the tempest 
was over, putting in a soothing phrase here and there 


and painting black whijte with the zeal of a skilful 
casuist. One need not be too scrupulous when 
sufferers such as this are concerned. 

" He has told you nothing of his movements ? " I 
remarked cautiously.- 

"Nothing, except that he was leaving shortly for 
Hamburg, whence he was to proceed immediately to 
New York. Some months later on I may join him 
there, but for the present all is uncertain." One 
more deception of Hartmann*s, but a kindly one ; 
obviously it was better not to disturb the illusions 
which the old lady thus fondly cherished — her re- 
formed son, his prospective honourable life, the vision 
of a lasting reunion abroad. Were she to suspect 
that mischief was again being plotted by the 
anarchist, what a cruel scattering of her hopes would 
follow ! 

I assured her that the chances were all in her son's 
favour, and that once in America he could set at 
naught all possibilities of discovery. Meanwhile, I 
had become aware that nothing of importance to my 
quest was to be drawn from Mrs. Hartmann. Her 
son's meteoric visit, prompted by some gleam of 
noble sentiment, had evidently left her ignorant of his 
new inhuman plottings. Ere long I rose to leave, 
not, however, without having promised that, should 


Hartmann ever cross my path, I would stand by him 
for her sake in a possible hour of danger. Under 
what circumstances I was to meet this extraordinary 
man — how absurd then my poor well-meant promise 
of assistance was to appear — will be manifest from 
the ensuing narrative. 




On Saturday evening I addressed a stormy meeting 
at Stepney. 

Since I bade adieu to Mrs. Hartmann much had 
occurred to rouse the sleeping tigers in the country. 
Riots had been reported from many great towns, 
while handbills of the most violent sort were being 
thrust on the workers of London. Revolutionary 
counsels had been long scattered by a thousand 
demagogues, and it appeared now that the ingather- 
ing of the harvest was nigh. A renewal of anarchist 
outrages had terrorized the well-to-do and fanned the 
extremists into vehemence. A terrible explosion 
was reported from Kensington, three houses, including 
that of the Home Secretary, Mr. Baynton, having 
been completely wrecked, while ten of their inmates 
had been killed and some fourteen more or less 
severely injured. A disastrous catastrophe had been 


narrowly averted from the Mansion House. It may- 
be imagined, therefore, that it was with a grave face 
that I ascended the platform that evening ; my course 
being rendered so difficult by reason of the extremists 
— on the one hand by the Conservatives, who, to my 
thinking, were perpetuating the conditions whence 
anarchy drew its breath, namely, a wretched pro- 
letariat exploited by capital ; on the other by the 
extreme socialists, who despaired of effective advance 
by way of ordinary parliamentary reforms. Both 
parties were strongly represented that night, and, 
political feeling running so high, the prospect of an 
orderly meeting seemed shadowy. I had some un- 
pleasant truths to press home, and was not to be 
deterred from this duty. 

Before rising to speak I glanced anxiously around 
the hall, and imagine my feelings when I found that 
Burnett was missing. This breach of his engagement 
was ominous. That he had a hand in the outrages 
was possible — his tone had of late been most threat- 
ening, and the influence of Schwartz was malefic — 
though the supposition was one I did not like to 
entertain. At any rate he might well have been 
suspected of complicity, and forced to seek refuge 

in flight. It was with a heavy heart that I obeyed 


the behest of the chairman and rose to address the 

What I said matters little. Severe condemnation 
of the outrages, a sharp critique of the individualist- 
Conservative groups, an appeal for unity and order in 
our agitation, were the points upon which I laid 
emphasis. I had spoken for about half-an-hour when 
my audience refused to let me proceed. Previously 
to this, interruptions had been frequent, but now a 
violent uproar arose, the uproar led to a fight, and a 
rush was made for the platform, which, albeit gallantly 
defended, was speedily enough stormed. I had the 
pleasure of knocking over one ruffian who leapt at 
me brandishing a chair, but a brutal kick 
behind sent me spinning into the crush by the steps. 
Severely cuffed and pommelled, I w<bs using my fists 
freely when the gas was suddenly turned off, and the 
struggle being summarily damped, I managed some- 
how to get into the street. 

And now came the exciting business of the night. 
In the mass of shouting enthusiasts outside it was 
useless to look for Burnett. I determined, therefore, 
to track him down to his own quarters. Passing 
back into the committee-room I hastily scribbled 
some rather indignant lines to my chairman, and 


then pulling my hat over my eyes elbowed my way 
through the press. 

By the time I got clear of the street I was con- 
siderably flushed and heated, and the rate at which 
I was going by no means conduced to refresh me. 
After ten minutes' sharp walk I plunged down the 
narrow street where Burnett's house lay, and a few 
seconds later had kicked back the gate and marched 
up to the door. I was startled to find it ajar. Burnett 
was so habitually cautious that I knew something 
must be amiss. Pushing it slowly open I stole noise- 
lessly into the passage and glanced through the 
keyhole of the door which led into the little parlour. 
It was well I had not tramped in. Two policemen 
and a man in plain clothes were standing round a 
hole in the floor, and the whole apartment was strewn 
with prized-up planks. On a chair close by was a 
heap of retorts, bottles, and canisters, while three 
ugly-looking bombs lay on the hearthstone. 

Burnett, then, had really been mixed up in these 
outrages, and the police were on his trail, if in- 
deed they had not already arrested him. And 
what about my own position ? The best thing for 
me was to make off" in a trice, for the entanglements, 
troubles, and disgrace in which capture there would 
plunge me were too appalling to cotvV^v^^^'aXe.. 


Instantly I glided to the door, and gently — this time 
— revolving the gate, slipped out hurriedly into the 
street. Fortunately there was no one on watch, or 
my arrest would have been speedy. As it was I 
rapidly gained the main street and was soon lost in 
the broad stream of pedestrians. 

Having still three hours before me, I turned into a 
confectioner's, and over a substantial tea endeavoured 
to think the matter out. That I was furious with 
Burnett goes without saying. Only his fanatical 
theories separated him to my mind from the common 
murderer. But that he should be caught was a 
thought utterly revolting, for I had liked the man 
warmly, and had owed my life to his pluck. No ; 
our friendship must cease henceforth, but it was at 
least my duty to warn him, if still at large, of the 
discovery. But how ? There was only one course 
open to me. Outrages or no outrages, police or no 
police, I must be present at the meeting in the park 
that night. It was quite possible that Burnett, 
ignorant of the search made at his house, might be 
still strolling about London, a prize for the first aspir- 
ing police-officer who should meet him. Yes, I would 
go and chance meeting the group, for I should mention 
that the exact spot for the rendezvous was unknown to 
me, AW I knew was that it was somewhere near 


the pond to the left as you enter from the Queen's 
Road. The best thing I could think of was to 
idle outside the park, until I could climb the palings 

The sky was overcast with clouds, and so far the 
project was favoured. Hazardous as was the affair, 
my resolution was speedily made and fortified. 
Leaving the shop I sallied out for a stroll and passed 
the remaining interval as best I could. Then I 
called for a hansom, and, leaping in, ordered the 
driver to take me to the Marble Arch. He demurred 
at first, saying the journey was too much for his 
horse at that time of night, but his scruples were 
silenced by the offer of a half-sovereign for his pains. 
The mute objections of his steed were quashed with 
a sharp cut of the whip, and I was whirled swiftly on 
to an adventure which was to beggar the wildest 
creations of romance. 

At the Marble Arch I dismissed the cab and 
walked briskly along the Hyde Park side in the 
direction of Notting Hill. I had gone some few 
hundred yards when a hansom sped by me rapidly, 
and a well-known face within it flashed on my vision 
like a meteor. It was Burnett, of all persons! 
Shouting and waving my stick I rushed wildly in 
chase of the vehicle, and, by dint of des^^x^\fc ^Sfcx\.% > 


succeeded at last in stopping it. As I approached 
the window, the trap flew up. " Drive on, man, drive 
on, never mind,*' growled a hoarse voice, and I heard 
the click of a revolver. " Here I am," I said, get- 
ting on the step arid rapping the window just as 
the man was about to whip up. Burnett stared. 
" What, you here ! " he said, flinging apart the leaves. 
" Come in quick. I don't know who may be behind." 
I mounted in a trice, and the cab flew on faster than 

"Look here," I said, breathlessly, "I have come to 
warn you. The police are on your track." 

" I know it, my boy," he rejoined, " but I think they 
have some way to run yet. No fear. I leave London 
in an hour." 

What was the man talking of — was he raving, or 
boasting, or what ? 

" Hi, stop ! " We got out, and the cab rolled away 

** Now over the palings," cried Burnett. " You will 
see Hartmann ?" 

"Yes, for an instant." The demon of curiosity 
was urgent, and the coast seemed clear. 

" All right. Come, sharp." 

It was no easy task for me, tired as I was, but with 
the help of my companion I got through it somehow. 


** Hallo ! Look ! " A second cab (probably informed 
by ours) was bearing down rapidly with two occu- 
pants, one of whom stood excitedly on the steps. 
" Detectives ! We're spotted ! " I leapt to the 
ground desperately. Heavens ! where had my 
curiosity landed me ? 

" Put your best leg foremost and follow me," yelled 
Burnett, and his revolver flashed in the gas-light. 

In my foolish excitement I obeyed him. As we 
rushed along I heard the men leap out and their 
boots clink on the iron of the palings. I felt like the 
quarry of the wild huntsman of German legend. If 
arrested in such a plight, and in such company, a 
deluge of disgrace, if not worse, awaited me. I ran 
like a deer from a leopard, but I felt I could not hold 
out very long at so break- neck a speed. 

" Keep — your — pecker — up," shouted Burnett 
brokenly. " Hartmann — is — waiting." 

" To be arrested with us," was my thought, or was 
more murder imminent ? God ! how I cursed my 
foolhardiness and useless sacrifice ! 

" Here — we are — at last ! " cried my companion, 
looking back over his shoulder. " One — effort — 

Half dizzy with fear and fatigue I made a despair- 
ing sprint, when, my foot striking a root, I was hurled 


violently to the ground. All I remember is seeing 
two dusky forms rushing up, and Burnett hurriedly 
wheeling round. Then from some unknown spot 
broke a salvo of cracks of revolvers. A heavy body 
fell bleeding across my face, and almost at once 
consciousness left me. 



Where was I ? I seemed to be escaping from the 
throes of some horrible dream, and that too with a 
headache past endurance. I stretched out my right 
hand and it struck something cold and hard. I opened 
one eye with an effort, and I saw three men bending 
over me as one sees spectres in a nightmare. Slowly 
there was borne upon me the sound of voices, and 
then the cruel remembrance of that struggle. I was 
in a police cell, and might have to expiate my mis- 
fortunes with shame or even death. Who was to 
believe my tale ? Horrified at the thought, I gave 
utterance to a deep groan. 

" There's not much up with your pal, Jack," said 
one of the spectres aforesaid ; " give him some more 
whisky ; he's hit his head and got knocked silly, that's 

What was this ? A surge of blood coursed through 


me. I made a supreme effort and opened both eyes 
fully. The light was poor, but it was enough. The 
face of the man nearest me was the face of Burnett, 
by him stood a rough-looking artisan, and, by all that 
is marvellous, Michael Schwartz ! 

" Here, take this,*' said Burnett, as the rough-look- 
ing man handed him the glass, " you'll be all right in 
a minute." I drank it off mechanically and, imbued 
with new strength, sat bolt upright on the bench. 
Burnett watched me satirically as I tried to cope 
with the situation. By the light of a small lamp 
hanging in a niche over my head I saw that I was in 
a low small room about twelve feet square, with bare 
greyish-looking walls and a few slit-like openings 
near the ceiling which did duty, no doubt, for windows. 
A few chests, several chairs, and a table of the same 
greyish • colour constituted its furniture. Almost 
directly opposite me was a low door through which 
blew gusts of chilly mist, but as to what lay beyond 
it I could not of course form a conjecture. Having 
made this rapid survey I turned in astonishment to 
my three stolid companions, mutely entreating some 
sort of clue to the mystery. 

Schwartz then made an attempt to rouse me by 
asking how I had enjoyed my nocturnal run in the 
park. But I was still too surprised to answer. I was 


thinking how Burnett could have carried me safe 
away, where he could possibly have brought nie, what 
had become of our pursuers, where the mysterious 
Hartmann was, who had fired the shots? These 
and a multitude of like riddles rendered mc speech- 
less with bewilderment. When I had more or less 
fully regained voice and strength I turned to Burnett, 
and ignoring the impish Schwartz, said curtly — 

" Where on earth am I ? " 

" You aren't on earth at all," was the answer, and 
the three burst into a hearty laugh. " Nor in heaven," 
added the speaker; "for if so neither Schwartz nor 
Thomas would be near you." 

" Come, a truce to humbug ! Am I in London, on 
the river, in an anarchist's haunt, or where ? " 

" I am quite serious. But if you want something 
more explicit, well, you are not in London but above it." 

I looked at the three wonderingly. A faint light 
was beginning to break on my mind. But no, the 
thing was impossible ! 

" Are you able to walk now ? " said Burnett. 
" Come, Schwartz, you take one arm and I'll take 
another. Between us we'll give Mr. Constitutionalist 
a lesson. Stanley, my boy, in all your days you 
never saw a sight such as I am going to show you 



" But it is nothing to what we shall see, comrade, 
when the captain gives the word," added Schwartz. 

" Thank you,*' I replied, " I will lean on you, 
Burnett. I can do without Herr Schwartz's assistance." 

We moved across the room. 

" Hist ! '' whispered Burnett, " don't be nasty to the 
German. He's the captain's right hand. It was he^ too, 
who knocked over your man just now and so s^ved 
you from trouble. Take my advice and be discreet." 

I nodded. 

" But who " 

^* Wait a moment and look around you." 

We had crossed the doorway and were standing in 
a sort of open bulwarked passage which evidently ran 
on for some length on either side. I stepped to the 

" Look below," said Burnett. 

I looked long and earnestly, while Schwartz and 
Thomas stood silently in the background. It was a 
strange sight, and it was some time ere I seized its 
meaning. It was very dark outside, the only light 
being that coming through the doorway of the 
chamber I had just quitted. But far below ^ as it 
seemed, glittered innumerable specks like stars, a 
curious contrast to the inkiness of the cloudy pall 
above us. As I gazed down into the depths I became 



i -^ f. 

.'•.'»• <r 


conscious of a dull murmur like that of whirling 
machinery, and forthwith detected a constant vibra- 
tion of the ledge on which my elbow rested. Then, 
and then only, the truth rushed upon me. 

I was being carried over London in the craft of 
Hartmann the Anarchist. 

Horrified with my thoughts — for the potentialities 
of this fell vessel dazed me — I clung fiercely to 
Burnett's arm. 

" I am, then, on the ," I gasped. 

" Deck of the Attilay put in Burnett. " Behold the 
craft that shall wreck civilization and hurl tyrannies 
into nothingness ! " 

But my gaze was fixed on those lights far below, 
and my thought was not of the tyrannies I had left, 
but of the tyranny this accursed deck might minister 
to. And Hartmann, they said, was remorseless. 

" Yes," growled Thomas hoarsely, " I live for the 
roar of the dynamite." 

Schwartz, stirred to enthusiasm, shouted a brutal 
parody of Tennyson. 

" The dynamite falls on castle walls 
And splendid buildings old in story. 
The column shakes, the tyrant quakes, 
And the wild wreckage leaps in glory. 
Throw, comrade, throw : set the wild echoes flying ; 
Throw, comrade ; answer, wretches, dying, dying, dying." 


If the remainder of the crew resembled this sample, 
I was caged in a veritable inferno. As yet, of course, 
I knew nothing of their numbers or feelings, but my 
expectations were far from being roseate. 

" But, man ! " I cried, turning to Burnett, " would 
you massacre helpless multitudes ? you, who prate .of 
tyranny, would you, also, play the rd/e of tyrants ? " 

Before the gathering horror all my wonder at the 
Attila had vanished. I felt only the helpless abject 
dismay with which one confronts an appalling but 
inevitable calamity. At that moment some disaster 
to the aeronef would have been welcome. The 
masterful vice of the fanatics maddened me. "Rebel, 
however, as I might, I was of no account. The snake 
that snapped at the file had more in his favour. 

"We don't argue here," said Burnett, "we act. If 
you want arguments, you must wait till you see the 
captain. Disputes with us are useless." 

So even he was becoming surly. It was natural 
enough, however, as a moment's reflection showed. 
The alligator on land is ordinarily mild enough, in 
his element he is invariably a terrible monster. The 
" suspect " anarchist of Stepney was courteous and 
argumentative, but the free and independent anarchist 
of the Attila dogvciditic and brutal. It was obviously 
best policy to humour him, for he alone, perhaps. 


might stand by me at a pinch. I endeavoured to 
throw oil on the troubled waters. 

" You used not to mind criticism," I urged. 

" Oh no ! but those days are past. Don't take 
what I say unkindly, for we all mean you well. The 
captain will always talk', but we here are tired of it. 
We only exist now to act — when the word is passed. 
So you will consult our convenience and your own 
much more effectually if you drop all such homilies 
for the future." 

" Yes," put in Thomas, " I had enough of it in 
London. Fifteen years of revolutionary socialist talk- 
ing and* nothing ever done ! But wait a few weeks 
and I warrant it will be said that we here have atoned 
wonderfully well for arrears. Come, a glass to our 
captain — the destined destroyer of civilization ! " The 
gallant three, acting on this hint, left me to digest 
their advice and retired within. How long I remained 
thinking I know not. Some one brought me a chair, 
but I was too abstracted to thank him. For fully an 
hour I must have looked down on those twinkling 
lights with a terror beyond the power of words to 
express. All was as Burnett had said. The dream 
of Hartmann was realized. The exile and outcast, 
lately sheltered from the law in the shadow of Con- 
tinental cities, now enjoyed power such as a hundred 


Czars could not hope for. The desperadoes with 
him, hated by and hating society, were probably one 
and all devoured by lust of blood and revenge. The 
three I knew were all proscribed men, loathing not 
only the landlord and capitalist but the workers, who 
would most of them have rejoiced over their capture. 
They attacked not only the abuses and the defects but 
the very foundations of society. Their long-cherished 
thought had been to shatter the trophies of centuries. 
And the long-contemplated opportunity had come at 

One resource remained. What they meant to do 
with me was uncertain. But my relations with Burnett 
and the friendship of Hartmann's mother were suf- 
ficient to avert any apprehension of violence. My 
endeavour then henceforward must be to work on the 
mind of Hartmann, to divert this engine of mischief 
into as fair a course as possible, to achieve by its aid 
a durable and relatively bloodless social revolution, 
and to reap by an authority so secure from over- 
throw a harvest of beneficial results. Buoyed up 
by these brighter thoughts, I now began to find 
time for a more immediate interest. What of this 
wonderful vessel or aeronef itself? What was it built 
of ? how was it propelled, supported, steered, manned, 
constructed ? Rising from my chair, I felt my way 


along the railing forward, but found the way barred 
by some door or partition. As I made my way back 
I met Burnett, who emerged from the low door already 

" What, exploring already ? " he said. " It's no 
good at this hour, as you have doubtless discovered. 
Come inside and TU see you are made cosy for the 
night.. You must want sleep, surely." 

I followed him in without a word. Passing into 
the chamber he pressed a spring in the wall, and a 
concealed door flew back revealing a dark recess. He 
struck a light, and there became visible a comfortable 
berth with the usual appurtenances of a homely cabin 
such as one would occupy in the second-class saloon 
of an ordinary ocean-going steamer. 

" By the way," I said, " you have not told me what 
happened in the park ; I am dying to know." 

" It is easily told. When you fell, the two detectives 
were up in a moment. I turned round meaning to 
shoot, but before I emptied a barrel, crack, crack, 
crack, came a series of reports from aloft, and both 
men were settled, one spinning right across you — see, 
your coat is covered with blood. The explanation is 
that thirty feet up between the alleys of the trees 
floated the Attila^ and Hartmann and Schwartz were 
indulging in a little sport. I very soou cVvtcAi^^ w^^ 


the ladder which was swinging close by the tree we 
were to have come to, and ypu were shortly afterwards 
hauled up in a carefully tied sheet. Why did we take: 
you on board ? I am surprised at your asking. We 
could not stop, and the idea of leaving you stunned, 
and in the compromising company of dead rnen, was 
not arguable. Would you have relished the idea of 
a trial as murderer and anarchist ? You meant well, 


you see, by me, and the captain Was strong in your 
favour. Some of the men know of you, and no one, 
had a bad word to say — save that your theories were 
rather Utopian. But you may change." 

For awhile I was silent. I thought of my Utopian 
project. Then I said, " So far as my theories go, I 
will confine myself now to one remark. Aii air-ship 
may be used as well as abused.^' 

Burnett laughed. " That's better ! Don't forget, 
however, to define your view of us to the captain. 
Hallo ! I must be off on watch ! " An electric bell 
tinkled sharply in the outer chamber. " Gopd-njght." 


Just before turning in I" looked closely at the basin 
of my wash-hand stand. It was of the same silvery 
grey colour which I had noted on the walls" of the 
cabin, and which, indeed, seemed ubiquitous. A 
sudden thought struck me. I emptied out the" water- 



and lifted it up. Its weight seemed so absurdly small 
that I could hardly believe my senses. But one thing 
was clear. The mystery of the thin silvery grey 
plate was explained. It was out of such materials 
that the body of the Attila was fashioned. The 
riddle of Schwartz previously half brushed aside was 
at last solved completely. 

As I was dropping off to sleep a novel reflection 
assailed me. What would Lena think of my absence 
to-morrow.-* Of this terrible night in the park ishe 

would Hot, of course, dream. Still , but sleep 

speedily quenched my thinking. 



It was late the next morning when thought and 
feeh'ng came back to me, the blurred imagery of my 
dreams mingling strangely with the memories of the 
preceding night. Despite a slight headache, and a 
suspicion or two of giddiness, I felt as well as could 
be expected, and lying back snugly on my pillow 
began to meditate rising. For once my resolution 
was quick in the making. My uncle used to say that, 
all things considered, life was not worth the trouble 
of dressing. But on this particular morning it most 
certainly was. The apprehensions of the past night 
had given way to a hopeful spirit, while the interest 
of exploring this aeronef thrilled me through and 
through. I was about to spring out of the berth in 
readiness for the labours of the toilet when Burnett 
looked in through the door. 

" All right ! Glad to hear it. Where are we ? Over 


the North Sea. Take my advice, and get up sharp. 
The captain has asked to see you. You'll find me 
knocking about somewhere round here when you're 

Thoroughly alive to the situation, I was not long 
in getting into my clothes. But my disgust was great 
on finding sundry half-dried splashes of blood on 
my coat, a souvenir of my luckless pursuer. In the 
excitement and darkness I had overlooked these 
hideous traces which now seemed to threaten me 
with the brand of Cain. Throwing aside the pol- 
luted garment, I stepped into the outer chamber, my 
pleasure quite overcast for the moment. Burnett 
was there, and a hearty breakfast was awaiting me, 
to which I promised to do summary and sweeping 
justice. The room, but feebly apparent the foregoing 
night, was now flooded with the sunlight, but the 
height at which we floated rendered the air most 
chilly and penetrating. The silvery grey colour of 
the walls, floor, chairs, benches, tables, and even the 
dishes and mugs, wrought on me an impressive effect, 
curiously set off" by the red cap worn by Burnett. 
Through the open doorway gleamed the same silvery 
grey livery of the flooring and bulwark of the passage, 
already mentioned, and, framed, as it were, in silver, 
glowed a truly magnificent cloud-picture. This sky- 


scape, however, was unstable, mass after mass of mist, 
shaped into turrets, battlements, and mountains, rolled 
by in picturesque splendour, bearing artistic testi- 
mony to the speed at which we or they were moving. 
" Beautiful, isn't it ? " said Burnett. " Here, eat your 
breakfast, and then TU show you round our cloud 
empire. Or perhaps you had best see the captain as 
soon as possible." 

I said I thought that would be best. 
" But where's your coat, man ? Oh, I remember. 
Wait and Til fetch you one of mine." 

In a short time the missing garment was made 
good, and I was falling to with avidity : — 

" How do you manage your meals and service 
here ? Have you cooks or servants ? " 

" Of course not. We are anarchists, and everything 
depends on private initiative. Every man is as good 
as another, and every man is a volunteer. Later on 
you will be expected to bestir yourself also." 
" But how do you avoid chaos ? " 
" There is no chaos to avoid. Outside the engine- 
room and conning-towcr there is little a man cannot 
quickly learn to do at need. We are very simple in 
our wants — that is part of our creed — and, conse- 
quently, have a deal of leisure. The watches are 
the worst part, for the captain is very particular." 


" Ah, wait a minute. What authority has he ? " 
" The authority of the soul of this enterprise, and 
its best man. We would voluntarily support him in 
a crisis. Five days ago a couple of Italians turned 
rusty. He shot both where they stood, and the men 
in their hearts approved of it. But he is an iron man. 
Wait till you see him ? " 

" Is any one on the A tli/a free to go where he likes ? " 
" Yes, except into the captain's quarters. To pass 

there a permit is required to all except myself, 
Schwartz, and Thomas. The engine-room watchers 
pass through every three hours, and a passage runs 
from it to the conning-tower and magazine below. 
You may guess what the latter contains." 

" How many men are aboard i " 

" Twenty-five, excluding ourselves. Eight are 
Germans, six Englishmen, four French, two Russians, 
one an Italian, and the others Swiss, some of those 
whom Hartmann employed at Berne.'* 

" Berne ; was that where the AUzVa was built ?•' 

" That's it. Hartmann, Schwartz, and his Swiss 
workmen put her together. He made money there, 
as you know, and this was his grand investment. It 
was kept beautifully dark in the wooded grounds of 
his villa. We are going there now, so you will sec 
the place for yourself.'* 


" But does any one know of the Attila ?" 
"No outsider probably who would be believed if 
he said anything. We have our friends down below, 
of course — never you fear — but they are mum. The 
hour has not yet struck, but the preparations for the 
festival are being, merrily carried out. The Attila is 
a secret for the present. To avoid being seen we 
take every precaution possible, and never approach 
the ground except at night ; in the daytime, well, 
there are clouds, and, if none, we simply mount 
higher, and then our colour is enough to conceal us.*' 

" But what if you meet a balloon ? " 

" Oh, there's very little chance of that. And if 
there was, the balloonist might find cause to regret 
the meeting. But come, and Til take you round to 
the captain. He is a better spokesman than I." 

" Right you are." 

We stepped out on to the passage, and rushing to 
the bulwark (if I may so call it) I gazed rapturously 
into the abyss below. It was indeed a glorious sight. 
The clouds hung around and below us, but here and 
there through their rents flashed the blue of a waste 
of rolling waters. Ever and anon these gaps would 
be speckled with rushing sea-birds, whose cries, mel- 
lowed by the distance, broke on the ear like music. 
Above in the clear blue sky shone the sun at the 


keystone of his low winter arch, lighting up the cloud 
masses with a splendour words cannot describe. Far 
ahead through a break on my right a faint thin streak 
like distant land seemed visible. 

" Hallo," I cried, " look there, land ! " 

Burnett shaded his eyes. 

" I can see nothing. Ah, yes ! By Jove ! who's on 
watch ? We ought to be rising." 

As he spoke a sudden pitch of the aeronef nearly 
upset us — the speed rapidly increased, and the wind 
became positively cutting. 

" We are rising fast," said Burnett. " See, we are 
leaving the cloud-bank far below us." 

But a new marvel had just caught my eye, and, 
clinging to the hand-rail, I gazed upwards in astonish- 
ment. The wall of the chamber behind us was con- 
tinuous with the main mass of the aeronef, which, 
looking from where we stood, exhibited the graceful 
lines of a ship's hull. Round this hull and presumably 
half-way up it ran the railed passage where we were 
standing, communicating here and there with door- 
wa)'s let into the grey side. Some thirty feet above 
us this side curved upwards and inwards so as to ter- 
minate in a flat, railed deck on which a few moving 
heads were just visible. But above this again rose a 
forest of thin grey poles running up to a vast oblong 


aeroplane which stretched some way beyond the hull. 
All these props were carefully stayed together, atild 
those towards the bow were somewhat higher than 
those in the stern ; provision being thus made for the 
inclination of the aeroplane consistently with due 
maintenance of the hull's equilibrium below. In the 
latter part of the nineteenth century much progress 
had been made in experiments with aeroplanes ; those 
of Maxim being particularly suggestive and interest- 
ing. I was, therefore, at no loss to probe the signifi- 
cance of this portion of the 'mechanism. 

" The captain wishes to see you," said Burnett, who 
was talking to a sullen-looking fellow by the door- 
way ; " come along." 

He stepped briskly along the passage, and, when 
we had gone some fifteen yards, turned up one of the 
alleys. Entering behind him I came to a small court 
surrounded with rooms and cabins, ^leaving which 
we ascended a spiral staircase to the upper deck. 
Glancing hastily around I saw five of six men pacing 
about chatting, while from other courts below came 
the sounds of singing and laughter. This deck, which 
capped the entire hull, was no less than eighty yards 
in length with an extreme breadth of at least thirty- 
five. Broad at the stern it narrowed off to a sharp 
point at the bow. The props attached to the aero- 


plane were set in six rows, curving close together 
amidships where there stood a small circular citadel, 
evidently the stronghold of the captain. Here were 
mounted three or four cannon of the quick-firing sort 
fashioned out of the same grey substance as the 
Attila, but the utility of which in a vessel carrying 

dynamite was not immediately obvious. The citadel 
itself bore no outward signs of comfort. It had four 
square windows and a plain hole of an entrance let 
into bare shining walls. An exterior wall six feet 
high, surmounted with spikes, and having hero and 
there a recess sheltering a machine gun, enclosed it. 
A fitter abode for the man I could not conceive. 


Sullen, isolated, and menacing, it inspired me with a 
vague premonitory dread. 

Burnett strode up to the entrance and pressed a 
knob. I heard the ting of an electric bell, and a 
man (Thomas, if I remember aright) came out and 
said the captain would see me alone. Mastering 
some natural excitement I bowed and followed him 
in. We passed through the inner portal and found 
ourselves in a narrow hall, flights of steps from which 
led down into the inmost vitals of the Attila, On 
our right was a door half open. My escort motioned 
me to enter and, pulling the door to, left me face to 
face with Hartmann. * 



Ten years had not rolled away for nothing ; still 
the face which looked into mine vividly recalled my 
glimpse into the album in the little villa at Islington. 
Seated before a writing-desk, studded with knobs of 
electric bells and heaped with maps and instruments, 
sat a bushy-bearded man with straight piercing glance 
and a forehead physiognomists would have envied. 
There was the same independent look, the same cruel 
hardness that had stamped the mien of the youth, 
but the old impetuous air had given way to a cold 
inflexible sedateness, far more appropriate to the 
dread master of the Attila. As I advanced into the 
room, he rose, a grand specimen of manhood, stand- 
ing full six feet three inches in his shoes. He 
shook hands more warmly than I had expected, and 
motioned me tacitly to a seat. 

"You have heard about my mischance," I began 


tentatively. " I had hoped to meet you for an hour or 
so, but fear I have outstayed my welcome." 

I felt he was weighing me in the balance. 

" I know probably more of that mischance than 
you do. Those luckless detectives were certainly 
embarrassing, but, after all, they afforded us an inci- 
dent. Of course, you can understand why we were 
bound not to leave you. And now that you are 
restored to vigour, are you sorry that you have seen 
the Attila?'' 

" On the contrary, I am lost in wonder. But look, 
sir, at the cost of my privilege. These unfortunate 
men you refer to, haunt me, and the purpose of this 
vessel, I must tell you, fairly appals me." 

He listened approvingly. A man in his position 
can well afford to be tolerant. 

" Ch, the men — such incidents must be looked for. 
Do generals dissolve into tears when two hostile sen- 
tries have to be shot.^ Do they shrink from the 
wholesale slaughter which every campaign entails } 
Nonsense, sir, nonsense ! " 

" But your war is not against this or that army or 
nation, but against civilization as a whole." I was 
determined to take the bull by the horns at the out- 
set. " You can scarcely justify that on those lines." 

" Easily enough. The victory in view is the re- 


generation of man, the cost will be some thousands, 
perhaps hundreds of thousands or millions of lives, 
the assailants are our small but legitimate army. We 
can say that our friends below are sincerely devoted 
to us and to our objects ; most of the ordinary 
soldiers of your princes have to be drummed into 
the ranks either by want or the law. As to the cost, 
look back on history. How many wars in those 
annals have been waged for the service of mankind ? 
On how many massacres has one 'ray of utility 
shone ? Now you must admit that our ideal is a 
worthy one even if unattainable. At the worst 
we can shed no more blood than did a Tamerlane 
or a Napoleon." 

" Certainly the ideal is a grand one, and might, if 
reliable, be worth the outlay. But how many of your 
crew appreciate its beauty ? Most, I will venture, 
love destruction for its own sake. Is Schwartz a 
reformer ? Is Thomas ? " 

" My crew are enthusiasts, Mr. Stanley ; nay, if you 

like, fiends of destruction. Every man is selected by 

myself. Every man is an outlaw from society, and 

most have shed blood. They burn to revdnge on 

society the evils which they have received, or, given the 

appropriate occasion, would receive from it. In this 

way'I secure resolute, fiery, and unflinching soldiers. 
* G 


But do not mistake my meaning. I know how to use 
these soldiers." 

" I understand." 

" Regard me according to Addison's simile, as the 
angel who guides the whirlwind. Look on these men 
— well, as you will. They are like the creatures 
generated in decaying bodies. They are the maggots 
of civilization, the harvest of the dragons' teeth sown 
in past centuries, the Frankenstein's monsters of 
civilization which are born to hate their father. You 
have read Milton, of course. Do you recall the pas- 
sage about Sin and the birth of Death who gnaws 
his wretched parent's vitals.^ It is the Sin of this 
industrial age which has bred the crew of this death- 
dealing A Hilar 

" But are all these men here morally rotten ? The 
man Schwartz, they call your * shadow,* is he a 

"Not at all. Your friend Burnett (who has just 
startled the Kensington notables) seems sound. He 
is a madman of the more reputable sort. There is 
another like him with us, a German of the name of 
Brandt, a philosopher recruited from the ranks of the 
Berlin socialists." 

" May I ask you two important questions } " 

" Say on." 


" The world says you were once a mere fanatical 
destroyer. Have you changed your creed ? " 

" You refer to my old days. Yes, you are right. I 
was then a pessimist, and despaired of everything 
around me." 

" And you became an anarchist " 

" To revenge myself on the race which produced 
and then wearied me. I had no tutor but Schwartz, 
a faithful fellow, but a mere iconoclast. Our idea was 
simple enough. We were to raze, raze, raze, and let 
the future look to itself. Our mistake was in dream- 
ing even of moderate success. Immunity from the 
police was impossible. But those wasted days are 

He smiled ironically and bent his gaze on the wall, 
devouring, as it seemed, some specially pleasurable 
object. Following its direction, I became aware of 
a splendid sketch of the Attilay which constituted 
the sole aesthetic appanage of this singular sanctum. 
What a contrast it must have awakened between his 
present power and the abjectness of the fugitive of 
ten years back ! 

"One more question. How do you propose to 
conquer, now you have the Attila ? " 

" I cannot say much as yet. But, understand, the 
day when the first bomb falls will witness outbreaks 


in every great city in Europe. We have some 12,000 
adherents in London, many more in Paris, Berlin, 
and elsewhere— they will stir the tumult below. Lon- 
don is my objective to start with. During the tem- 
pests of bombs, the anarchists below will fire the 
streets in all directions, rouse up the populace, and 
let loose pandemonium upon earth. In the confu- 
sion due to our attack, order and precautions will 
be impossible." 

" You horrify me. And the object ? '* 

" Is, as I repeat, to wreck civilization. If you are 
interested, Brandt will probably attract you. He 
lectures to-morrow on the upper deck. We are 
Rousseaus who advocate a return to a simpler 

" But how is the new order to take shape ? How 
educe system from chaos ? " 

*' We want no more ' systems,' or * constitutions ' — 
we shall have anarchy. Men will effect all by volun- 
tary association, and abjure the foulness of the 
modern wage-slavery and city-mechanisms." 

" But can you expect the more brutal classes to 
thrive under this system } Will they not rather 
degenerate into savagery ? " 

" You forget the Attila will still sail the breeze, and 
she will then have her fleet of consorts." 


*' What ! you do not propose, then, to leave anarchy 
unseasoned ? " 

" Not at once — the transition would be far too 
severe. Some supervision must necessarily be exer- 
cised, but, as a rule, it will never be more than 

" Your ideal, captain, amazes me. But the prospect, 
I admit, is splendid. Were you to succeed, I say at 
once that the return would well repay the outlay. I 
am a socialist, you know, but I have felt how selfish- 
ness and the risks of reaction hampered all our most 
promising plans. The egotism of democrats is vora- 
cious. It is the curse of our movement. But this 
scheme of supervised anarchy, well, in some ways it 
is magnificent — still it is only a theory." 

"The Attila was once *only a theory/" rejoined 
Hartmann. "One word, now, Mr. Stanley. I ask 
you neither to join us nor to agree with us. You are 
your own master, and should you dislike this tour, 
say the word and at nightfall you shall be landed 
in France. If you elect to stay, well and good. I 
am your debtor. Don't look surprised, for you have 
been a good friend to my mother, and least of all men 
I forget debts. I only ask you to observe silence 
respecting our conversations, and never to interfere in 
anything you see in progress. Which is it to be }'' 


" I elect to stay. I can do no good by leaving, 
and by staying I court an absolutely unique experi- 
ence. Believe me, too, captain, I am not insen- 
sible to what you have said. Between the anarchist 
Schwartz and yourself yawns an abyss." 

" Good." 

" One thing, captain. Could I find means to 
despatch a letter — a letter to a lady ? " I added, as 
I saw his eyebrows rise slightly. 

" Certainly, if you conform to the rules voluntarily 
agreed upon. You are not one of us — you will not, 
therefore, object to the letter being read. I will 
spare you undue annoyance by formally glancing 
over it.'* 

" The rule is reasonable enough, captain, and 
requires no defence." 

"It shall be given to one of the delegates when we 
touch land in Switzerland. A convention of import- 
ance is to be held there. But, come, I will take you 
round the AUi/a,' and striding by me he passed out 
of the study. 

"What was that land visible just now, captain .? " 
I asked, as we reached one of the stairways that led 
down into the vessel. 

" Holland. The course has since been altered ; we 
find the clouds are lifting, and not wishing to run too 


high are making off towards the Engh'sh Channel. 
To-night we shall cross France, steering above Havre 
along the channel of the Seine, over Paris, Dijon, the 
Saone, and the Jura mountains into Switzerland. I 
had intended to go to Berne, but have been forced 
to change my plans. We shall stop over a forest 
not far from Lake Leman, where some fifty delegates 
will meet us. After that we return to London.*' 

" For war ? " 

" For war." 

Down into the depths of the Attila we went, the 
spiral stair running down a deep and seemingly in- 
terminable well. On reaching the bottom my con- 
ductor turned off into a passage brightly lit up with 
the electric light. A rumble and thud of machinery 
broke on the ear, and in a few seconds we stood in 
the engine-room of the Attila, My readers are 
aware of the wonderful advances in electricity made 
in the early part of the twentieth century, and I 
need not, therefore, recapitulate them here. In the 
mechanism of this engine-room there was nothing 
specially peculiar, but the appropriation of the best 
modern inventions left nothing to be desired. Elec- 
tricity, according to the newly introduced method, 
being generated directly from coal, the force at the 
disposal of the aeronaut was colossal, and, what was 


even more expedient, obtained for a trifling outlay 
of fuel. A short but very thick shaft, revolving with 
great spsed, led, I was told, to a screw without, 
and by the sides of this monster two others of far 
humbler dimensions were resting idly on their 

I was now able to solve the riddle of the Attilcis 
flight. The buoyancy of the vessel was that of an 
inclined plane driven rapidly through the air by a 
screw, a device first prominently brought into notice 
by the nineteenth-century experiments of Maxim. 
The Attila^ albeit light, was, of course, under normal 
conditions, greatly heavier than the quantity of air 
she displaced— indispensable condition, indeed, of any 
real mastery over the subtle element she dwelt in. 
The balloon is a mere toy at the mercy of the gale 
and its gas — the Attila seemed wholly indifferent to 
both. But, desirous of probing the problem to the 
bottom, I put Hartmann the question — 

" What would happen supposing that shaft broke, 
or the machinery somehow got out of order ? " 

" Well, we should fall." 

'/ Fall } '' 

"Yes, but very gradually at first, so long as our 
speed was fairly well maintained. The aeroplane, as 
you know, will only buoy us up on the condition that 


we move, and that pretty quickly. Still, there are 
always the two spare steering screws to fall back 

" But what if they stopped as well ? " 

" It's most unlikely that they would stop. The 
three shafts are worked independently. But if they 
did, the sand-valves would have to be opened." 

" The sand-valves ? " 

" Yes. You have doubtless been surprised at the 
huge size of the Attila, Well the main parts of the 
upper and middle portions of her hull are nothing 
more nor less than a succession of gas-meters — of 
compartments filled with hydrogen introduced at 
a high temperature, so as to yield the maximum 
amount of buoyancy. Below these compartments 
again lie the sand reservoirs. When these latter are 
three parts full their natural effect is to keep the 
Attila at about the level of the sea, supposing, that 
is to say, the screws are completely stopped. If your 
so-much-drcaded event was to happen, the watch in 
the conning-tower would simply shift the sand-levers, 
a quantity of ballast would be released, and we 
should at once begin to rise. We can thus regulate 
our weight at will. The secret of it all is the marvel- 
lous lightness of these walls. I am not free to tell 
you to what discovery that lightness is due, but you 


may test and analyze as much as you like, on the 
off chance of a correct guess." 

" It*s all superb! ''was my enthusiastic comment. 
" But how about an ordinary complete descent to 
earth ? " 

" A very simple matter. From the outer gallery 
the Attila looks as if her bottom was gently curved, 
terminating in the customary orthodox keel. That 
is what the upper lines suggest. But three feet below 
the level at which we stand lies a flat projecting 
bottom studded underneath with springs resting on 
the axles of wheels. I wish to touch land. I press 
certain knobs and this, that, perhaps all three screws, 
ease off, run down, or may be reversed. The Attila 
then sweeps onward much after the fashion of an 
albatross with outspread motionless wings. Steer- 
ing is easy — a *ting' in the engine-room sets this 
or that side screw shaft rotating. Slowly — perhaps 
fast — she falls, then faster and faster. Meanwhile 
I stand by the sand-levers — I pull this and the 
stern rises, we swoop down like a hawk ; I pull 
that, the bow rises, the impetus thus gained carries 
the Attila in a noble curve aloft. Finally she 
hovers over the ground, and, opening a hydrogen 
valve, I adjust her descent delicately, so as to spare 
the springs." 


" But you must lose a great deal of hydrogen in 

"Not so much as you would think. And, besides, 

the loss is of no moment. We carry an immense 
quantity of the gas compressed in tubes at a pressure 
of many thousand pounds to the square inch. What 
loss there is can therefore always be made good at 


intervals. You will have a chance of watching our 
procedure very shortly, as we ' sand up ' and replenish 
three or four gas-reservoirs at a sand-dune not very 
far "distant." 

We passed through the gaily-lit passage back to 
the well, where for fifty feet above us the long stair 
curled upward to the citadel. 

"These side walls," observed Hartmann, "with 
those constituting the outer skin of the Attila, bound 
the huge gas compartments I mentioned. They are 
independent, so that serious accidents are impossible. 
In the cavities and corridors between them lie the 
cabins and quarters of the crew, the courts enclosed 
by which you must have noticed from the upper deck. 
All these courts open on to the outer gallery, and 
communicate by the deck with the common room. 
To the centre divisions of the ship, the engine-room, 
and the conning-tower, no one has access except with 
my leave. This," and he opened a small carefully 
guarded door, " is the magazine." 

He pressed a button, and the gleam of a vacuum 
lamp pierced the darkness. Half awestruck I stepped 

" There is nothing to see now. We have to be so 
cautious. Stay ! look here." He seized a ring and 
lifted a trap in the floor. I started back, for it opened 


into a well some three feet deep and then into the 
aerial abyss below ! 

" That well will vomit disaster one day." 

He let down the trap, and we left the gloomy 

"The AUi/a,you see, Mr. Stanley, combines the 
advantages of the bird and the balloon, of the aeronef 
and the aerostat. It has been my dream from boy- 
hood, and at last, after infinite pains, it is realized. 
Still, even for me it is but a means to an end. But 
you will admit it is not a bad one." 

We ascended the stairway and stepped on to the 
upper deck. Some twenty men were assembled, and 
they respectfully saluted my companion. 

" Comrades," he said, " my friend Stanley comes 
among you. Though he is not yet one of us, he may 
be. His devotion to the cause of Labour is his pass- 
port. Take him and treat him as our guest." 

He bowed to me and retired into his citadel. The 
crew crowded eagerly round me with a warmth wholly 
unlooked for. The terrible captain had evidently not 
spoken in vain. During the next half-hour I was 
escorted round their quarters in state. Naturally I 
volunteered my services for the necessary work of the 
vessel, but somewhat to my surprise was firmly asked 
to desist A guest, they said, could not be expected 


to conform to their habits at once, and two of the 
objectors were urgent in entreating me to accept their 
services. In the end I was vanquished, not entirely 
to my regret, and the first day of my sojourn on the 
Attila passed pleasantly enough. Would that all the 
others had passed in a like manner, for in that case 
I should have to describe an Elysium instead of an 
Inferno ! 



Released for the moment from care, I gave 
myself up to the full enjoyment of the voyage. Of 
the grandeur of the cloud pictures, the glory of the 
sunsets and the twilights, of the moonlight flooding 
our decks as we sped over the streaky mists below, of 
the mystic passage by night and the blushes of early 
morn, I cannot trust myself to speak. Such things 
ordinarily belittle words, but framed in the romance 
of this voyage they wrought indescribable effects 
upon me. The economist was merged in the artist, I 
no longer reasoned but lay bathed in the flood of 
feeling. And not only these beauties enthralled me, 
but the motion of the Attila was itself a poem. 

Have you never in the drowsy noon of a long 
summer's day lain back on the sward watching the 
evolutions of a rook round its elm, noted the raptur- 
ous poise of its wings and the easy grace of its flight } 


Even such was the flight of the Attila. Let me 
detail an incident which took place over-night, and 
the ground for my enthusiasm will be obvious. Hart- 
mann had summoned me to his study, and taken me 
along to the conning-tower, the passage to which ran 
under deck from the citadel. The tower (capped with 
search-light apparatus for night work when requisite) 
rested on the nozzle or ram-like projecting bow of 
the aeronef, and was so constructed as to command a 
superb outlook. Two men were on watch when we 
arrived, and these respectfully saluted the captain. 

"Is the shore far off.?" 

" About five miles." 

" Any vessels in sight } " 

*' No, sir." 

" All right." 

" Now, Mr. Stanley," said he, turning to me, " I am 
going to show you how the Attila obeys its master. 
We require to load up with sand and refill five or six 
of the hydrogen compartments. That strip yonder is 
one of our favourite docks. Watch me." 

He pressed one of the knobs communicating with 
the engine-room. 

" That stops the force supply to the main shaft, the 
revolutions of which will speedily ease down. We 
are falling fast, do you observe } Hold tight. There ! " 





^-.M . 



The bow dipped several degrees and we shot 
onward and downward like an arrow. Were we 
rushing into the sea, the billows of which seemed to 
leap up at us larger and larger each second ? Another 
pitch, the bow rose considerably, and we were carried 
by the aeroplane hundreds of yards upwards, the 
onward motion being at the same time inconceivably 
rapid. Once more these tactics were repeated, and 
so closely we neared the ocean that the waves must 
have splashed the screw-blades. Meantime Hartmann 
rapidly twisted a wheel with each hand. 

** This works the sand levers of the bow, that of the 
stern. Ballast is dropping quickly." 

At once we rose, and to my unconcealed wonder 
stopped at a height of about 300 feet above sea-level, 
still, however, riding forward with a lazy careless 
motion. We were now near the sand-pits, whither a 
few turns of the screw bore us gently. Hartmann, 
watching his opportunity, began twisting a small 
wheel in the centre of a medley of others. 

" A hydrogen valve." 

We fell sharply, but a touch to the other wheels 
eased us, and alighting gently on the spit the wheels 
of the Attila were buried up to their naves. 

It was then getting late, so every one was as 
expeditious as possible. First bag after bag of sand 




was dried and cast into the sand reservoirs, binding 
the craft immovably to the dune. The process 
resembled a coaling operation at Port Said, and 
amused me greatly. I worked hard, and earned a 
shower of praises. Afterwards I stood by while the 
five huge centre compartments were filled with the 
rarefied gas. It was a tedious affair, because each in 
turn had to be pumped and re-pumpcd out, then filled 
with cold hydrogen, then with a fresh supply highly 
heated so as to contract and become rare on cooling. 
About one hour was consumed in the operation, and 
at its close the Attila still lay motionless on the 
sand-spit. Everything, however, having been duly 
overhauled, the sand levers were gently worked, the 
surplus ballast slipped away, and breaking away from 
our couch we floated twenty feet above the spit. The 
three screws were then set rotating, and speed having 
been attained, we curved upwards into the bosom of 
the sunset clouds. An experience more superb 
romance itself could not furnish. 

Later on we passed at high speed over Havre, the 
lights of which twinkled merrily through a mist 
patch. Next Rouen glided away beneath us, and 
at seven we swept over the gorgeous city of Paris. 
Satiated in some measure with these sights I stepped 
down into a court and entered the cosy smoking- 


room. Burnett was there, and Brandt, the " philoso- 
pher" whom Hartmann had mentioned. I was very 
fond of German thought, and did not fail to improve 
the timely occasion. Brandt was not only a meta- 
physician, but readily listened to my very guarded 
criticisms of the anarchists. He was, however, 
inflexible, and professed the most supreme confidence 
in Hartmann. " He is the heart of the enterprise, 
and it was he who gave the Attila wings. Look at 
what he effected with small resources, and you may 
rely on him with great.'* He evinced a sturdy faith 
in the scheme of supervision, and prophesied as its 
result a grand moral and intellectual regeneration of 
man. But, he added, the initial blows will be terrible. 
One remark filled me with apprehension. " London," 
he said, " in three days will be mere shambles with 
the roof ablaze." 

" Heavens ! " I cried, " so soon ! " 

" Yes. The object of this trip is merely to settle 
details with some terrestrial friends who meet us to- 
morrow evening — delegates from the various affiliated 
bodies of Europe.'' 

Shortly afterwards I had an interview with Hart- 
mann, and urged that some warning might at least 
be given to our friends. 

" By all means," he remarked, " warn yours to keep 


away from London. One of the delegates will act 
for you after due inspection of the message. For 
myself, I have already taken my private precautions." 

Diary. Tuesday Morning, — Crossed Dijon and 
the river Saone in the night. Rising rapidly, as the 
slopes of the Jura mountains are ahead of us, and 
" the captain," as they call him, will insist on keeping 
high ! No doubt it is safer, but I suspect the* real 
truth is that he wants to appear unannounced over 
London — a portent as mysterious as terrible. Shows 
himself ironical and inflexible. I suggest a mild, 
course of action, and he asks me whether I aspire to 
be captain of the Attila, Am becoming neverthe- 
less almost inured to the thought of the impending 
calamity. Brandt says philosophically that " the 
advance of man is always over thorns." Unhappily 
the thorns do not always lead to happiness. Will 
they do so in this case 1 The bluster of the vulgar 
dynamitards is revolting. Even Burnett is forgetting 
the end in the means. As to Schwartz, his vile 
parody is being sung freely by all the English-speaking 
hyaenas of his stamp : — 

^* The 'dynamite falls on castle walls, 
And splendid buildings old in story. 
The column shakes, the tyrant quakes. 
And the wild wreckage leaps in glory. 
Throw, comrades, throw ; set the wild echoes flying ; 
Throw, comrades ; answer, wretches, dying, dying, dying." 


Am getting to loathe the crew, now the novelty of 
their reception is beginning to wear off. 

Tttesday {Afternoon). — Still higher, great discomfort 
being experienced. The barometer readings make us 
three and a half miles above sea-level over the pine- 
covered summits of the Jura mountains. I find it 
necessary to breathe much more rapidly, the rarity of 
the air is unsatisfying. At times a dizziness seizes 
me, and on examining my hands and body I find my 
veins standing out like whipcord. Hartmann shortly 
eases off the screws— he was experimenting, so it 
appears, with his machinery. A change of tactics is 
observable. He ignores possible sightseers now, 
probably because he knows that reports from tourists 
and mountaineers stand no chance of being believed. 
Hence we almost brush the mountains, and a superb 
privilege it is. The magnificent pines here surpass 
anything else of the kind. Sometimes we glide mid- 
way along a valley with a rushing torrent beneath us 
and these pine-fringed precipices on our sides ; some- 
times we amaze a luckless mountaineer or shepherd 
as we thread a defile ; sometimes we curve over valley- 
heads with a grace an eagle might imitate ; then, 
again, we breast the cloud-rack and are lost in its 
mantling fleeces. We are now bearing south-east by 
south, and are not far off from the beautiful lake of 


Tuesday {Night), — Wrote my letter and telegram, 
and gave them to Hartmann for the delegate. We 
have stopped over a pine forest some five miles distant 
from Morges, on the shore of the lake. Switzerland, 
I am told, was selected as the rendezvous because of 
its central position. Many Russians, Poles, Austrians, 
and Italians, besides delegates from other nationalities, 
are expected. They are to arrange details of the 
forthcoming revolution. Had a friendly talk with 
Burnett, who once more tried to proselytize me. Told 
him if any one could shake my convictions it is 
Hartmann and not he. How bloodthirsty the men 
are getting ! Query, — What if the lust for blood 
grows by what it feeds on } What if this crew gets 
out of hand } Happily, a strong man stands at the 

{Later) — The convention is in full swing. What 
enthusiasm must inspire these " tourists," for, of course, 
it is in this character that they travel. Most, I hear, 
are very badly off, their funds being supplied by their 
associations. A great deal of provisions and materiel 
has been brought aboard. How well this crusade is 
organized ! 

Hartmann remains on board, he has never left the 
vessel except on the occasion when he visited his 
mother. Burnett and Schwartz take his instructions 
to the delegates, and most of the crew escort them. 
We are floating very near the ground in a rude clear- 
ing on the mountain side, two rope-ladders and some 


cables link us with the soil. After several hours' 
conference below, the delegates visit the Attila. 
Heavens ! what desperadoes some look ! Yet they 
control, so Burnett says, vast societies. Hartmann 
interviews each. He works patiently through the 
list, and finally addresses them en masse^ launching 
terms of the most animated invective against modern 
civilization. Am, of course, excluded, but learn that 
everything has gone off admirably. Five of the dele- 
gates are to join the crew, the rest carry back their 
instructions. We start early in the morning. What 
a spectacle there is before us ! However, two days' 
breathing time is something. Trust that delegate, 
whoever he is, will not forget the telegram and letter 
to Lena. 

« « « «« « « « 



During the return to England two incidents of 
note, both alike terrible, but terrible in widely differ* 
ent ways, chequered our voyage, and the first of these 
it will now be my task to detail. 

Wealth of romance, witchery of mountain scenery, 
and panoramas of ever-varying landscapes in the 
plains — whatever happiness can be gleaned from these 
was mine in bounteous plenty. Hitherto, however, 
the Attila had met with gentle winds and fairly clear 
skies ; she was a gay butterfly by day and a listless 
moth by night. She had shortly to display to me 
her prowess as a rider of the tempest. This experi- 
ence, along with its sequel of grim incident, impressed 
me deeply. I shall try to awake in the reader some 
echo of the emotions which it stirred into fervour 
within me. 

No one, at any rate, could charge Hartmann with 


boring his unsolicited guest. Feasted as I had been 
with pictures, I was destined to be swept through 
ever novel galleries of natural marvels. I had antici- 
pated that we should return by a like route to that 
by which we had arrived, but a pleasant reversal of 
this view was in store for me. Leaving the slopes 
of the Jura behind her, the Attila sped in a south- 
westerly direction across the department of Aisne, 
over Lyons, \vestward across the extinct volcanoes of 
Auvergne, then curving slightly to the south she 
leapt the river Dordogne, and, finally, ' passing at a 
great height over Bordeaux, reached the ocean rim 
over the desolate Z^//rf<?j which- span the coast-line 
betwixt the Garonne estuary and the Adour. Had I 
been exploring Central Africa in the interests of 
science, I should feel justified- in presenting my 
observations at length. But the tracts beneath me 
being so familiar, such procedure would be both 
useless and troublesome. J, must therefore leave the 
imaginative to put thei*pselves in my place and picture 
these well-known districts as transfigured by the 
romance of air-travelling. 

In looking down on such natural maps one is 
transported with a sense of power and exultation that 
renders even homely sights attractive. Burnett, it is 
true, assured me that even this luxury of travel palls 


on one after a time. Judging from the indifference 
of the crew, I should say that he had right on his 
side. But, whether my artistic appetite was abnormal, 
or the banquet provided was not of the proper dura- 
tion, I can only say that this part of my residence 
on the Attila always wore the livery of a gorgeous 

It was becoming dark when the pine forests and 
sand wastes of the Landes gave place to the rim of 
Biscay surf In accordance with custom we rapidly 
began to descend, and were soon coursing over the 
billows at a height of some 200 feet. It was one 
of those evenings which ordinarily favour melancholy 
and lassitude. Above us stretched inky layers of 
stratus or "fall" cloud, wrought of mists driven 
from the upper regions by the chills that hurried 
after the setting sun. The wind blew in gusts and 
preyed vampire-like on our energies — an electric 
tension of the atmosphere was becoming unmistak- 
ably manifest. Clouds were rising smoke-like from 
the ocean rim and mingling with the flatter masses 
overhead, and even as I gazed the waves seemed to 
flash whiter and whiter through the veil of the nether 
darkness. I was standing on the upper deck debating 
social problems with Brandt, greatly to the enjoy- 
ment of three of the crew who watched the contest. 


Some few yards in front of us the platform tapered 
off to a point at the convergence of the bow railings, 
and directly in front of this the hull sloped down- 
wards and outwards to form the projecting ram. At 
the extremity of this, with crest barely visible from 
the spot where my listeners were reclining, rose the 
conning-tower like a horn on the snout of a rhinoceros. 
Amidships and astern hummed the forest of stays 
and props v/hich hung us to the aeroplane, clustering 
thick over the rounded boss of the citadel, now half 
shrouded in gloom. It was a scene to inspire the 
painter — this weird vessel and its weird crew borne 
along between an angry welkin and the riotous surges 
of the ocean. 

"Violent diseases often demand violent remedies,'* 
said Brandt, as he developed his favourite topic. 
" The surgeon may be gentle at heart, but he spares 
not the gangrenous limb. In modern times he has 
anaesthetics to soothe his patient, but did he shrink 
from his task when such artifices as these were un- 
known } Regard us anarchists as excising the foul 
ulcers of Humanity and as forced to perform that 
duty with no anaesthetics to aid us. Could we throw 
all London, all Paris, all Berlin into a trance, how 
painless would be our surgery! But, unhappily, we 


have to confront struggling patients Vividly sensitive 
to the knife. Nevertheless, for their own sakes, or 
rather the sake of Humanity, we must cut" 

" But you overlook one important contrast. The 
surgeon lops off a limb or roots up an ulcer to 
save his patient's life or better his health. But 
you attack civilization not to reform it but to 
annihilate it" 

"That IS true, but civilization — your industrial 
civilization— -what is it ? Not a system to be identi- 
fied with the cause of human welfare, and hence worth 


preserving in some form or other at all costs, but a 
mere vicious outgrowth prejudicial to that welfare as 
we conceive it. The test of the worth of a civilization 
is its power to minister to human happiness. Judged 
by this standard your civilization has proved a failure. 
Mankind rushed to her embraces in hope, fought its 
way thither through long and weary centuries, and 
has for a reward the sneers of a mistress as exacting 
as she is icy : 

* The.third day comes a frost, a killing frost.' " 

During the delivery of this harangue the wind had 
been steadily rising, and it now began to shriek 
through the stays in a fashion positively alarming. 
Foregoing further parley, I bent over the railing and 

-<- « ■ * * 



strove to catch a glimpse of the angry sea-horses 
beneath us. But it was by this time too dark for the 
non-feline eye. - Glancing upwards and around the 
horizon, I could see the awnings of the storm un- 
rolling, with here and there a rift t'hrough which stole 
the feeble moonlight. A man came from the citadel 
and stepped up to us. It was Hartmann. 

" Well," he said, ** we are in for it. The barometer 
is falling rapidly, and the storm is already gathering. 
Have a care for yourselves, comrades," he added to 
his followers. "You, Stanley, follow me to the 
conning- tower. The log of the Attila may be worth 
writing to-night." 

I followed him gladly into the citadel, and down 
the stair leading to the narrow corridor which ran 
on to the bow. As we entered it the Attila seemed 
to reel with a violent shock that sent me spinning 
against the wall. The storm had burst. By the 
time I had picked myself up Hartmann had dis- 
appeared. I found my way after him into the tower, 
where he was standing, regulator in hand, with his 
eyes on the glass plate that looked forward into the 

*' We are rising," he said, laconically. " Look ! " 

A fan of vivid glory cleft the darkness. Illumined 
by the electric search-light great masses of driving 


vapour were rushing by us ; but other sight there was 
none. Suddenly a second squall struck us, and the 
Attila rolled like a liner in a cyclone; the lurch was 
horrible, and for a moment I thought we were cap- 
sizing — it must have been one of at least forty-five 
degrees followed by a very slow recovery. Hart- 
mann was busy over a medley of wheels, levers, and 

" We are passing through the cloud-belt at a very 
high speed," he continued, as if the shock was a trifle. 
" My intention is, first, to let you see a storm from 
the quiet zone above it ; secondly, to rush downwards 
into it that the Attila may show her mettle." 

I said nothing, for my feelings were in truth some- 
what mixed. With the ascent portion of the pro- 
gramme I concurred heartily ; the second I would 
gladly have abandoned, as it seemed to me so utterly 
foolhardy. But faint heart was not the commodity 
for Hartmann, and wishing to earn his favour through 
his respect, I suppressed my fears resolutely. Not 
noticing my silence he kept on throwing in his com- 
ments on the situation. As the minutes wore on I 
observed that the mist masses were blowing thinner 
and thinner against the bow of the Attila. Suddenly 
the electric light was turned off, and a gentle silvery 
glow took its place. And as we swept on I perceived 



that the wind had fallen also. Hartmann pressed a 
bell-knob, and the two men on watch reappeared. 

" Now to the deck again, and you shall see a fine 

As we stepped into tlie court of the citadel I had 
reason to appreciate this remark. Down in the 
conning-tower I had stood behind the captain and 
seen little save the dawn of a gentle radiance among 
the thinning mists. But up here the vista was 
glorious. A brisk but by no means stinging wind 
swept the deck. Above shone the horned moon in 
unclouded majesty, casting a weird light on the 
rolling masses of cloud-battalions underneath us. 
From below came the roar of the strife of elements 
and the crooked gleam of the levin-bolt, while the 
echoes of the thunder leapt grimly across the halls 
and palaces of the storm-king. As if arbiter of the 
struggle, the Attila rode serenely over the turmoil in 
the quiet zone. 

" How high are we now } " I asked Hartmann, for 
the air was oppressively rare. 

"A trifle over two miles. A sublime spectacle 
this, is it not .? '* 

" Uniquely so. The sense of serene power is 
so striking. But you do not propose to rest 
here ? '* 


" Oh no. I must show that this serene power is 
not fraudulent I shall shortly plunge the Attila 
into the very vortex of the storm, and teach you how 
nobly she can wing her way through it." 

" It would not be safe, I suppose, on deck, what 
with the rolling, pitching, and wind ? Still one can 
scarcely enjoy these scenes in the conning-tower, 
where the engineer and watchman usurp the best 

" You would like, if possible, to stay here ? " 

" Yes." If the experience had to be undergone, 
there was no reason why I should not brave it out 
thoroughly. Better the deck than a back seat in the 

" Well, so let it be. But you must be lashed 
securely. Where shall it be } Why not to the railing 
over the bow .^ You could not have a finer coigne 
of vantage." 

I assented at once, and, a couple of the crew being 
hailed, I was speedily made fast in a sitting posture 
by the waist and liberally invested with wraps. My 
position was excellent. I could see down the sloping 
bow to the conning-tower, and would be fairly 
sheltered from the worst of the wind. All the pre- 
parations being complete, the captain and the crew 
retired, leaving the deck altogether deserted. No 


light, save that of the moon, fell on its cold surface, 
and that only where the umbrella-like aeroplane did 
not bar off the sheets of slanting silver. 

The Attila rode grandly over the gloomy wool- 
packs below, and, thrilling with excitement and some 
fear, I waited for the coming plunge. The suspense 
was short. Suddenly the electric eye of the aeronef 
glowed forth from the crest of Ihe conning-tower, 
behind and above which I was lashed to the railing. 
Then the bow dipped and the speed began to increase. 
Again and again it dipped with a series of little jolts, 
and then cut obliquely into the tenuous rim of the 
cloud-belt, through which it began to plough with an 
energy almost distressing. 

Those who have stood on an express engine running 
sixty miles an hour will know what it is to breathe 
in the teeth of a rushing blast ; let them then conceive 
my experience when 120 and probably more miles 
an hour were being done in a hurricane. Drenching 
clouds swept over me, the wind and thunder roared 
round me, as I was borne into that angry stratum 
below. Burying my mouth within my neckcloth, 
and sheltering my eyes with my hands, I looked 
straight ahead at the glow which cleft the darkness 
before us. In a very brief time we had shot through 


the belt, and were rushing wildly down to the wind^ 
lashed desolation below. The pitching and rolling 
of the aeronef now became terrible, and once more 
awoke my fears. What if the guns were to break 
adrift or the props of the aeroplane to yield ! As it 
was I could see that the squalls caused a startling 
irregularity of course, the Attila swerving furiously 
from right to left, now dropping like a stone, now 
being checked in her descent and hurtled upwards. 
Surely Hartmann would not run too close to the 
waves on such a fearful night ! 

Looking downwards, I now saw that the glow had 
reached the face of the waters, everywhere in violent 
turmoil with huge waves at least twenty-five feet high 
from trough to crest, spanned by clouds of wind-drift. 
And sight still more enthralling was a large dismasted 
steamer labouring heavily as she lay hove-to under 
the strokes of a thousand hammers. With boats 
smashed, bridge carried away, bulwarks in many 
places shattered, and decks continually swept, she 
was a spectacle fit to move even a Hartmann. 
Assistance, however, was out of the question. Every 
art of the captain must be required to guide the 
course of the Attila^ and our tremendous speed could 
not safely be relaxed for a moment. It would have 

r^is: j^Ew T^ist?: 

*ti • ' 




been, indeed, easy to "hover" in the teeth of a furious 
blast, but what if the blast were to drop and leave 
us momentarily stationary, while a side roll or pitch 
were to succeed ? 

Screws and sand levers notwithstanding, it was 
better to risk nothing. But what an experience was 
this! The Attila with flaming electric eye circled 
round the doomed vessel, lighting up a deck crowded 
with panic-stricken passengers, groups of whom every 
larger wave washed pell-mell through the broken 
bulwarks. Cry or shriek, none could be heard, the 
roar of the elements was too frightful, but the ges- 
tures of the wretches were too piteous to misinterpret- 
Shutting my eyes, I refused for some minutes to look 
on the dreadful holocaust, but once more I had to 
yield to the fascination. By that time the drama 
was over. The Attila was still circling, but in the 
place of the luckless vessel feapt the white-maned 
savage billows. 

I now began to feel chilled and miserable ; the 
excitement of the outset had dwindled, and a reaction, 
enhanced by the rigours of the night and the fore- 
going drama, mastered me. Happily the Attila had 
by this time weathered enough of difficulties. Rising 
through the cloud-belt, she left the angry winds and 
rain once more below her. Some of the crew as- 


cended to the deck and released me from my bondage. 
It was no.v getting late, so after thanking Hartmann 
for his courtesy, I descended into my berth to sleep 
off the ill effects of exposure, and dream horrible 
dreams of wrecks and drowning victims. 

> • , i 



I ROSE late the next morning somewhat the worse 
for my exposure, but nevertheless far too interested 
in my voyage to heed a mere cold and a few rheu- 
matic twinges. No sooner, indeed, was I awake 
than I leapt out of my berth, and busying myself 
energetically with my toilet, was speedily pacing the 
bulwarked passage of which mention has already 
been made. The zone through which we were 
ploughing was cloudy, and a strong bitter head wind 
was blowing. Looking over the bulwarks I could 
see nothing but driving mists, and above the vast 
aeroplane a thinner layer of mist, through several 
rifts in which the sun thrust his slanting columns of 
light. No one was visible in the passage, but I 
heard a medley of excited voices which suggested 
that some controversy was in progress on the upper 


Listening attentively, I became convinced that 
some unusual affair was in hand, and anxious to 
miss nothing of interest, I entered an arch that led 
into one of the courts, and passed up the enclosed 
spiral staircase to the scene of this animated talking. 
On gaining the deck I saw nearly all the crew stand- 
ing in groups round the citadel. Burnett was there 
gesticulating wildly to Brandt, so stepping briskly 
up to them I asked the cause of this muster. 

" Ah, you here ! " said Burnett. " In time for the 
first blow, eh ! Well, there will be something to see 
shortly, eh, Brandt!** and the anarchist-philosopher 
addressed smiled approvingly. But his merriment 
recalled the bland purring of a cat over a captured 

"What's up, then.?" I continued, somewhat startled, 
for during the pause the ominous words "ironclad," 
" bombs," uttered by some of the eager disputants 
around, had caught my ear. 

" The captain has sighted an ironclad, and we are 
about to try conclusions," said Brandt. The words 
had scarcely passed his lips when the inner door of 
the citadel swung ajar, and through the enclosure 
into our midst stalked the redoubtable captain 

" Comrades," he said, " below us steams a large 


British ironclad just sighted through the mist. I 
propose to test her mettle — it will serve as a practica 
test of our bomb-fire — are you agreeable ? " 

A burst of applause greeted this iniquitous pro- 
posal, and a sturdy rascal stepped out of the throng 
and saluted him. Hartmann bent forward. "Well, 
Norman," he said. 

" May I strike the first blow, captain ? '* A chorus 
of similar applications followed. Hartmann thus 
appealed to suggested that the applicants should 
draw lots for the privilege, and the ruffians pro- 
ceeded forthwith to settle their claims in this fashion. 

Their levity so disgusted me that I longed to rush 
forward and attack the whole scheme. I had actually 
moved forward some steps when I felt a tight grip 
on my arm. I turned round sharply, to face Brandt, 
who had providentially sensed my project. 

" Back, man ! Are you mad ? These men will 
stand no nonsense, and if you insult the captain, 
even his personal influence could not save you." 

Bah! it was hopeless. I slunk back with a feel- 
ing of utter helplessness. There was clearly nothing 
for it but to see the whole hideous affair out in 
silence. Still, indignation all but mastered me. 
What ruffians were these anarchists ! " Cowards ! " 
I hissed involuntarily, but by this time they were 


too absorbed in their lot-drawing to hear me. " Shut 
up, fool," reiterated Brandt. " I warn you that you 
will be brained or chucked overboard if they hear 
you." I bit my lips in despair. " Schwartz has it ! 
Schwartz has it!'* I heard Hartmann say at last — 
they were drawing the lots — "he strikes the first blow, 
and no better man could do it. Next, Norman ; 
next '* 

I walked away and leant on the bow railing, glad 
to be left alone. The hubbub continued for some 
time, when the men dispersed, almost all going 
below. Torn by useless emotions I gazed down at 
the mists that swam beneath us, striving to pierce 
the veil which separated us from the doomed ship. 
To tear myself away from the spot was impossible — 
the fascination of the projected crime was irresistible. 
Have you ever watched a scene in a slaughter-house, 
loathing it while nevertheless unable to avert your 
gaze ? Possibly you have. Well, that situation is 
akin to the morbid curiosity which nailed me unwil- 
lingly to my post. 

The mists were thinning around us, but I observed 
with some surprise that a dense cloud below us — cut 
off sharply from its now unsubstantial fellows — main- 
tained its position relatively to the Attila unchanged. 
Evidently Hartmann was purposely lurking behind 


this barrier, and proposed to deliver his first blow on 
an absolutely unsuspecting victim. Looking more 
attentively I noted a thin longitudinal rift in this 
cloud through which could be seen, though dimly, 
the sea, and in this something dark and indistinct, 
no bigger than an ordinary pea. It was the 
ironclad ! 

The Attila began to sink rapidly — the rift; length- 
ened and broadened as I gazed, the pea swelled into 
a two-masted, two-funnelled battle-ship with a trail 
of black smoke faintly decipherable in her wake. 
Down, down, down we dropped — we were now on 
the fringe of the upper surface of the cloud, and the 
great ship, now only some 300 feet below us, was 
revealing itself clearly to the eye. At this point our 
downward motion ceased, and the AUi/a began to 
describe short curves at the level of the screening 
cloud, now skimming over its dank masses, now 
flashing over the rift that stretched directly over her 
unsuspecting prey. Four evolutions of this sort had 
taken place, and now for the fifth time we were 
gliding over the rift, when I heard a cheer raised by 
some men on the lower gallery, and craning my 
head over the railing, saw something black flash 
through space and splash in a big green wave that 

was flinging itself against the vessel's stern. It was 



the moment of the " first blow," and — might the 
omen hold good !-— the first blow had failed. 

Again a curve over the rift, and once more a 
failure, at least so it seemed at first, for this time, 
again, a splash by the stern rejoiced me. But my 
satisfaction was momentary. A few seconds after I 
saw a cloud of smoke shoot upwards from the iron- 
clad, followed by a defeaning crash. The third bomb 
had told. And in the horrid confusion that followed, 
the Attila threw off her secrecy, slipped through the 
cloud, and floated down to the vessel like some huge 
bird of prey — the very embodiment of masterful and 
shameless power. 

As the smoke cleared away, revealing the strange 
visitor from the clouds, the feelings of the officers 
and crew must have been as unique as they were 
terrible. Amazement, a sense of complete unpre- 
paredness and helplessness, going along with the dis- 
astrous results of the explosion, must have unnerved 
even the boldest. The great battle-ship was wholly 
at the mercy of the foe that rode so contemptuously 
above it. 

How the situation was viewed from its decks has 
been told at length in the admirably graphic letter 
of Captain Boyes, R.N., to the Times ^ and to that 
source I must refer you for details. Looking down 



TIE M'^^ 

WBLk: I r 




from my eyrie, I was of course only able to gauge 
very roughly the havoc wrought by the bomb. Hart- 
mann had previously told me that nothing con- 
structed by man could withstand his enormous 
missiles, and the scene below well bore out his boast. 
Apparently the bomb had burst amidships nearly, 
I should say, between the funnels. Of these latter 
one had been shorn of half its length, the other 
had been blown away completely, its base forming 
part of a chasm whence rolled volumes of black 
smoke, through which the shrieks of wounded men 
rose faintly upward. Across this chasm had fallen 
the fore-mast, while fragments of spars, ventilators, 
steel plates, fittings, boats, and human victims were 
scattered confusedly over the low-lying fore-deck. 
And even as I looked two more appalling explosions 
shook the ironclad from stem to stern ; through the 
uprush of smoke I saw a great telescope of .a gun 
tossed out of its shattered turret into the water and 
a huge cantle of the steel deck torn away, as if it 
were paper, exposing a new chasm, at once invaded 
by flames. But the other bomb was even more 
deadly, bursting in the great hollow excavated 
between the funnels and wrecking the very vitals of 
the ironclad ; the steam from the shattered boilers 
rushing tumultuously up the gap with the effect of 


speedily shrouding the whole vessel. Some horrible 
deaths, says Captain Boyes, sprang from this ex- 
plosion, as all those on duty in the port stoke-hole 
and engine-room were either blown to pieces by the 
bomb or subsequently boiled alive. I did not, of 
course, know of this at the time, but the volumes of 
escaping steam told too clearly how hideous must be 
the massacre, and imagination thus stimulated could 
not very well go far wrong. I felt giddy with horror 
when I thought of the scenes which that vapour-pall 
hung over. 

How long was this drama to continue ? Doubtless 
until the ironclad was gutted or sunk, a consumma- 
tion which could not be very far distant. Two or 
three bombs more would surely complete the work, 
and leave perhaps no witness to tell the hideous tale 
to history. I could look no longer — to do so seemed 
almost abetting these cruel fanatics — but flinging 
myself on the deck awaited tremblingly the next 
burst of thunder. A minute ebbed away, another, 
and then another, and still no shock. The suspense 
was becoming acute. 

Suddenly the Attila pitched violently, the bow 
shifting thrice vehemently upwards, and along with 
this the hum of the great screw-blades began to swell 
higher and higher. I sprang to my feet — these 


tactics meant, of course, a rapid ascent, but what was 
the object in view ? Glancing over the railing I per- 
ceived that we were slanting at great speed into the 
cloud-zone, leaving the crippled battle-ship far behind 
and below. Ah, yes ! The reason was clear enough. 
Not a mile to the south-west a large ironclad attended 
by some smaller vessels, probably cruisers, was 
making its way to the scene. Owing to my absorp- 
tion in the attack they had hitherto escaped my 

" A poor job this," said some one who had stolen 
up unperceived behind me. I turned round — it was 

" Very," I answered. " I must congratulate you, 
I suppose, on the heroism you have just displayed. 
A pity not to enhance it by engaging this vessel's 

Burnett took the sneer coolly. 

*' Why waste material ? Besides, you must see 
that the Attila would be uselessly exposing herself. 
It would be folly to risk the salute of heavy guns 
with the great campaign yet before us." 

He was wise after his kind. The Attila dared not 
face the new-comers, who by elevating their guns 
might well succeed in winging her. A shell from a 
five-ton gun would have proved a most damaging 


visitor. Only so long as she circled directly above 
a vessel could she count on immunity from serious 
injury. A contest at her old level with numerous 
scattered foes was impracticable ; so huge a target 
would inevitably be holed in the long run, while an 
attempt to drop bombs from a higher level would 
defeat its object by rendering accuracy of aim im- 
practicable. Perforce, then, she had dropped the 
prey from her talons and was seeking safety aloft. 
Mounting into cloud-land, she was departing as 
mysteriously as she had come, a tigress who, having 
once tasted blood, yearned to slake her thirst in the 
heart of civilization itself. To-morrow we were to 

reach the metropolis, and then Sick with my 

forebodings and savage at my sense of impotence, I 
turned surlily away from Burnett, whose very presence 
was now becoming obnoxious, and descending into 
a court passed thence through the gallery to my 
berth, resolved from that hour to see as little of my 
fell associates as the conditions of my stay rendered 



On the morning of October 19th, that most 
memorable of days in the history of revolutions, we 
sighted Brighto'n through the haze, and secrecy being 
no longer observed, the Attila swept down like an 
albatross into the sight of men. Gliding two hundred 
feet above the water she presented a truly majestic 
spectacle. The vast sweep of her aeroplane, the huge 
size of her silvery grey hull, the play of the three 
great screws humming with the speed of their rota- 
tion, the red-capped aeronauts lining the upper deck 
and lower gallery, the nozzle horned with its quaint 
conning-tower, and the four ominous cannon leaning 
downwards from the citadel, these and the marvellous 
flight itself commanded the homage that hailed her. 
The esplanade and the beach buzzed with wonder 
beneath us, and as we skimmed over the housetops 
beyond them streets seemed to fill as if by magic. 


Thunders of applause rose behind us as awe regularly 
gave place to admiration. " They will sound a 
different note to-night," said Schwartz, who was 
standing by me. " The banquet at last is ready, and 
surely we shall eat till we are gorged." 

The Attila gradually rose higher, as the slopes of 
the South Downs confronted her. But she always 
kept about one hundred and fifty feet from the 
ground, deliberately courting the observation which 
she had once so shunned. Of her purpose or owner- 
ship no sign however was given ; it was pleasant to 
play with the unsuspicious fools whose lives and 
possessions she had so ruthlessly marked for her own. 
A more fascinating sight than this journey it is not 
easy to picture. Now, for the first time in my life, 
I fairly revelled in the incense of my fellow-creatures' 
astonishment. To dance butterfly-like over woods, 
fields, hills, and sinuous rivers, to grasp vast ever- 
changing vistas of scenery, are in themselves delicious. 
But when to these purely artistic joys are added those 
of power, when the roar of wondering cities rises 
upwards, and you lean over the bulwarks serenely 
conscious of superiority, you must be described as 
realizing here on earth one of the paradises of 

At about ten o'clock we passed over Grinstead, and 


shortly afterwards crossed the boundaries of Sussex. 
By this time the preparations on the aeronef were 
complete, arid every one had been summoned to the 
citadel and told off to his post. And now there fell 
upon me the shadow of the coming disaster. The 
faces of the crew were savage, even Brandt had lost 
his kindliness. Burnett was surly, and asked how I 
liked my position. Rather nettled, I told him that 
at any rate my hands would be free from blood-stains. 
Then it occurred to me that I might glean some 
interesting news from Hartmann. Eager for some 
excitement, as the depression stole heavier and 
heavier upon me, I ascended to the upper deck and 
pressed the button by the gate of the sombre citadel. 
Thomas appeared and telephoned my request to see 
the captain. The reply came back that he was in 
the conning-tower, but would be glad to see me for 
a moment. Accordingly, I was not long in making 
my way along the passage that led from the citadel 
to that favoured spot. 

" Well,'' he said, *' I trust your nerves are in order. 
The drama opens in an hour. Within three days' 
time London will be in ruins, and Lord Macaulay's 
New Zealander will be able to commence his survey." 

" Is there no way of avoiding it } In the name of 
humanity, captain, I beseech you to pause. Think 


of the agonies which this awful resolve must breed ! 
Think " 

" No more of this," he said sharply. " You are my 
guest. You may, if you wish, be landed. You may, 
if you wish, remain. But in the latter case you will 
conform to my ruling." 

" And that is } " 

" That you hold your tongue when desired to. 
London, I say, as Cato said of Carthage, London 
must be destroyed." 

"You have the advantage, captain. But thank 
heaven this will be no catastrophe of my making. 
And now may I ask a rather leading question ? " 

"By all means. At the worst you can only be 
refused an answer." 

" When and how will the first blow be struck ? " 

" Above the Houses of Parliament ; a blank dis- 
charge of the cannon will warn- all, after which my 
flag will be run out. And then well " 

I understood. 

" We shall conduct the attack in three ways — by 
shell firing and machine-gun fire, by dynamite 
and forcite bombs, and by streams of burning 

" Good God ! " 

" Meanwhile our associates will be spreading de- 


vastation below. The Houses of Parliament, the 
City, and the West End will occupy us in turn." 

" Who will control operations } '* 

" Schwartz, Norris, and Brandt manage the bombs. 
Five Swiss the oil ; the rest — with the exception of 
three in the engine-room — man the quick-firing and 
machine-guns. I myself shall direct the course of 
the Attila from this tower. You are free to walk the 
upper deck, but the lower gallery is being transformed 
into tanks to hold the oil. I must now ask you to 
go. Thomas, you will see Mr. Stanley on to the 
deck and place him under due watch. He is free 
to inspect all he wishes, but he must interfere with 
nothing — understand, with nothing either by word or 
deed. Any breach of the order will entail death." 

I was as helpless as a bluebottle in a spider's web. 
Thank heavens that I had sent Lena that telegram 
and letter. Luckily, in any case, she and her parents 
ought to receive warning from the guarded hints 
doubtless already conveyed to Mrs. Hartmann. 

When I reached the deck, Thomas (who acted as 
a sort of A.D.C.) told off a man to watch me, and 
then sped away below. Looking over the rail, I 
could see that the oil was being poured into tanks 
formed by fitting cross walls into parts of the lower 
gallery. There were some eight of these along the 


bow end of the vessel alone, and I trembled to think 
of the fearful mischief which these hideous contriv- 
ances portended. Lamentations of this sort were, 
however, futile. Casting an eye over the landscape, 
I saw Caterham vanishing beneath us, while to the 
right rolled the billowy expanse of the North Downs. 
We were now going at a high speed, and in a short 
time — far too short to my thinking — were rapidly 
skimming over Croydon, Norwood Junction, and the 
Crystal Palace. We were now nearing our destina- 
tion, and our altitude, recently raised to one of five 
hundred and fifty feet above sea-level, was once again 
suddenly altered to one of one hundred and fifty. 
The speed, too, was rapidly reduced, till at last 
gliding gracefully over Lambeth we passed obliquely 
over Westminster Bridge. 

The scene here beggars description. The enormous 
crowd, already massed for some great labour demon- 
stration, usurped every available patch of standing 
room, windows and roofs became animated, and 
vehicles of all sorts and conditions pulled up in 
batches and served as the vantage-ground of excited 
groups. Probably the arrival at Brighton had been 
at once telegraphed to the newspaper offices, but few 
knew of it, and to those few (the anarchist " brothers " 
apart) the Attila was necessarily a complete mystery. 


To the majority we came as falls a bolt from the blue 
(I refer here to the universal astonishment apparent, 
for at the outset it was clear enough that the aeronef 
inspired no terror). Cheers shook the air beneath 
us, and the distant thunders of applause rumbled far 
away down the Embankment. 

A man stepped aside from his gun, and pointed 
down at the crowd on Westminster Bridge. 

"This is the bridge blown up by Hartmann and 
Schwartz ten years ago. These vermin seem to have 
liked it, don't they ? " 

I turned away in disgust. What a mockery it was ! 
The populace thought they were applauding an in- 
ventor, and they cheered a ruthless destroyer ! Terrible 
captain, Morituri te salutant. But the hour had come, 
— the clock-tower rose only twenty yards from us. 

Suddenly a gong sounded ominously. It was the 
signal. The four quick-firing guns vomited flame 
simultaneously, and ere the crash had died away, a 
blood-red flag was to be seen fluttering at the stern. 
The crew yelled with excitement, as well they might, 
for the coup was evilly romantic. On its broad flut- 
tering bosom the flag bore five ominous words — words 
which carried a terrible commentary with them — 



It was a shock never to be forgotten. The cheering 
ceased in an instant, and in its place curses and howls 
rose up from the struggling mob. Even the sightseers 
on the roofs shook their fists at the Atttia, 

" Ah, vermin ! " yelled one of the crew, " you w^ll 
howl louder soon." 

The words had scarcely left his lips when the Attila 
was sharply propelled onwards, the force being such 
as to cause me to grasp the railing to save myself 
from falling. The object of this manoeuvre was 
evident. It was necessary to rise, now that we were 
recognized, and active operations were to commence. 
After a series of brilliant wheels the Attila climbed 
high above the clock-tower and commenced to cruise 
about in large circles. 

The gong sounded once more. Once more the 
quick-firing guns vomited flame, and this time the 
charge was not blank. And mingling with their almost 
continuous roar, there now came a crash of appalling 
magnitude, shaking the very recesses of one*s brain. 
Another and another followed, till the air seemed to 
beat in waves upon us, and our ears became veritable 
torture-chambers. Then followed a rattle like that 
of a landslip. I looked over, to start back with a 
shriek. Horror of horrors, the great tower had fallen 
on the crowd, bruising into jelly a legion of buried 


wretches, and beating into ruins the whole mass of 
buildings opposite. Every outlet from the neigh- 
bourhood was being furiously fought for, hordes of 
screaming, shrieking madmen were fatting, crushing 
and stamping their victims into heaps, and with the 
growth of each writhing heap the ghastly confusion 
grew also. Of the Houses of Parliament pinnacles 
were collapsing and walls were being riven asunder 
as the shells burst within them. 

But this spectacle, grievous of its kind, was as 
nothing to the other. With eyes riveted now to 
the massacre, I saw frantic women trodden down by 
men ; huge clearings made by the shells and instantly 
filled up ; house-fronts crushing horses and vehicles 
as they fell ; fires bursting out on all sides, to devour 
what they listed, and terrified police struggling wildly 
and helplessly in the heart of the press. The roar 
of the guns was continuous, and every missile found 
its billet. Was I in Pandemonium ? I saw Burnett, 
black with grime, hounding his comrades on to the 
slaughter. 1 heard the roar of Schwartz's bombs, 
and the roar of the burning and falling houses. 
Huge circles of flame raved beneath us, and shot up 
their feverish and scorching breath. The Attila^ 
drunk with slaughter, was careering in continually 
fresh tracts, spreading havoc and desolation every- 


where. To compare her to a wolf in a flock of help- 
less sheep is idle — the sheep could at least butt, the 
victims below could not approach, and after some 
time, indeed/ owing to the smoke, could not even 
see us. 

The morning passed in horror, but the story of the 
afternoon and evening is wilder yet. The sky, over- 
cast with clouds and black with uprolling smoke- 
wreaths, lay like a strangely spotted pall over the 
blazing district. Around and within Westminster 
enmity could do no more. Shortly before two o'clock 
the Attila drew off. With the screws working power- 
fully she climbed upwards into the heavens, and 
buried in the cloud-masses gave London a momentary 
respite. Hartmann wished not to fatigue the crew, 
being anxious to reserve their energies for the attack 
on the City. His aim was to pierce the ventricle of 
the heart of civilization, that heart which pumps the 
blood of capital everywhere, through the arteries of 
Russia, of Australia, of India, just as through the 
capillaries of fur companies in North America, 
planting enterprises in Ecuador, and trading steamers 
on African rivers. " Paralyze this heart," he has 
said, " and you paralyze credit and the mechanism 
of finance almost universally." The result already 
known to history proved too well that he was right ; 


but my task is not to play the historian, but simply 
to tell my tale as one who has trod the Attila. 

The interval of respite was not long, but during the 
whole time we kept well veiled within the angry zone 
of clouds. Burnett came up to speak to me, but I 
received him coldly enough. Schwartz was " sur- 
prised that I had no compliment*' for him when 
*' even the captain " was pleased. He remarked that 
the slaughter had been prodigious, that the Houses 
of Parliament were wrecked, and the flames were 
carrying everything before them. Nero fiddling over 
Rome was respectable compared with this monster ; 
but to attack him would have been fatal, as I should 
have at once been shot or thrown overboard. Hart- 
mann remained invisible, he was still at his post in 
the conning-tower. 

Towards three o'clock I noticed the men hurrying 
hastily to their posts. The assault was shortly to 
begin. Slowly we emerged from the cloud-rack, 
wheeling ever in great circles above the luckless 
quarry below. A queer accident delayed us. I was 
standing by the citadel when I heard a sharp crack, 
followed by a sensation of rapid sinking. The shaft 
of the main screw had broken, and we were rushing 
downwards like a parachute. Everything for the 
moment was in confusion and more than one cheek 


paled, but a master-hand was in the conning-tower. 
Without even handling the sand levers, Hartmann 
set the auxiliary screws rotating at a high speed. At 
once the fall was checked, and the Attila rose once 
more into the clouds. After an hour's delay the 
shaft was temporarily repaired, and arrangements 
were made to replace it, if necessary, with a spare 
one. Luckily for the aeronef these shafts were ex- 
tremely short, so that two spare ones could always 
be kept in hand without undue demand for stowage 
room. The present mishap was not at all serious, as 
between the repaired shaft and the spare ones there 
was little, if anything, to choose. The only " lucky " 
thing was that the snap had not taken place too close 
to the stern. In this case the screw-blades might 
have torn away the stern-plating and irretrievably 
damaged themselves at the same time. 

The Attila now began to re-descend, working all 
three screws at once. We were evidently not un- 
expected, for I made out soldiery in the streets, and 
several detachments of artillery. How they expected 
to wing us I really do not know, for a moving aeronef 
hurling forcite and dynamite missiles is neither an 
easy nor a pleasant target. The height at which we 
were must also be borne in mind. I suppose I am 
within the mark when I say that our descent stopped 


at the half-mile limit. There was no delay this time. 
The first and second bombs fell on the Tower, re- 
ducing it half to ruins ; they were of the largest kind, 
and terribly effective instruments. Meanwhile the 
quick-firing guns played havoc at all points of the 
compass. But the worst was to come. As we rode 
over the heart of the City — that sanctum of capital, 
where the Bank of England, many other banks of 
scarcely less brilliant fame, the Royal Exchange, 
Stock Exchange, with credit companies, insurance 
offices, and discount houses innumerable lie herded 
— the bombs fell in a tempest, shattering fabric after 
fabric, and uprooting their very foundations. There 
was a constant roar of explosions, and the loss of life 
must have been something terrible. Burnett was in 
his element. Handling his gun like a practised 
marksman, he riddled St. PauFs and its neighbour- 
hood, the crash of the infalling dome rising even 
above the explosions around it. But for him, at 
least, there was retribution. Hitherto, bating rifle- 
fire, we had escaped being hit, the motion and height 
of the Attila were in our favour. South London 
enjoyed the downfall of the shells launched against 
us. But, as fate would have it, a volley of grape-shot 
struck us. From the sides of the aeronef they re- 
bounded, steel armour would have been more easily 


pierced, but a stray one found a billet. Burnett 
was gazing over the side through the smoke at the 
wreckage when a ball holed his throat. He fell back 
with a gurgle. I ran up, and saw the man was failing 
— the blood was spurting from his carotid like jets 
from a siphon. In less than a minute he was dead. 

His fate was deserved, and I felt no ray of sym- 
pathy, for by this time I was dead to all feelings 
except those of helpless hatred for the anarchists, and 
horror at the hideous slaughter below. Before this 
horror every former sympathy with Hartmann and 
his crew had withered. Could I have killed Hart- 
mann at that moment I would gladly have paid the 
price for it. But his day of reckoning was to come. 





The death of Burnett drove the crew to frenzy, 
their curses were not those of men but of fiends. 
The shock of surprise — the fury that one blow of 
their despised victims should have told — ^goaded 
them into the mood of Molochs. Instantly the news 
flew to Hartmann, who returned a welcome answer. 
The yells around me were broken by a burst of 

" What is it }" I asked, fearful of some new horror, 
full as the measure of crime now seemed. 

" Wait and you will see ! ** was all the reply I got. 

The Attila began to move at a high speed, and 
four of the men rushed down on to the lower deck. 
Quicker ! quicker ! quicker ! — there was no doubt of 
it, we were swooping on the City like a falcon. I 
was at the rail in a moment, and, careless of uprush- 
ing shot and shell, bent over the side in a fever. 


Though beyond the zone of flames, a simoom blast 
swept the vessel, and puffs of inky smoke spangled 
with sparks rendered breathing a torment. But the 
Attila swerved not an iota. Down we swept like a 
hurricane over the yelling maddened throngs massed 
in Farringdon Street. Suddenly I heard a sharp cry : 

"Stand off!" I had hardly time to draw back 
when a column of flames shot up the side, reddening 
the very bar I had been clutching. 

" Let go ! " — a crash, the column vanished, and a 
stream of fire like a comet's tail drew out instantane- 
ously in the wake of the Attila, It was the petro- 
leum. The first tank had been lighted, its contents 
shot over the shrieking wretches below ! For full 
fifty to sixty yards the blaze filled the roadway, and 
the mob, lapped in flame, were writhing and wrestling 
within it. A fiendish revenge was glutted.^ Suddenly 
I was hurled violently to the deck as the bow rose 
sharply. The Attila^ buoyed by her aeroplane, shot 
once more aslant to her old higher level, firing her 


guns continuously as she ascended. Sick and sur- 
feited with horror I remained lying some time where 
I was. But the end was yet to come. 

By this time the night was pressing on rapidly, but 
what a night ! I rose up and staggered to the stern 
— anything to be away from these wretches. The 






' ''^'^^S^l 



hum of the great screw-blades reached me, and I 
looked over and yearned that they might fail us. 
We were now circling over Fleet Street and the 
neighbourhood of the Strand. The fires lighted at 
Westminster in the morning were carrying all before 
them, and a crimson yellow rim stretched all the 
way from Whitehall to Victoria. On our flank the 
City was blazing, and a roaring tumult of flames 
was undulating in every direction from this centre. 
And now for the first time I saw that others than 
ourselves were hurrying on the incendiary work 
below. There were visible blazing circles in South 
London over the water, blazing circles far away in 
North London, and blazing circles scattered through- 
out the West End. The delegates had kept their 
faith. The great metropolis seenied doomed. I 
shuddered to think what the mob might do in their 
despair. The West End was even now probably 
being looted, and the worst passions would toll its 
death-knell. I thought of my telegram, and found 
some relief in the belief that Lena at least was out 
of danger. 
. Suddenly I shook with terror. I had never asked 
Hartmann whether the letter and the telegram form 
had been handed to the delegate. Racing back to 
the citadel, I appealed to one of my guards. Could 


a message be sent to the captain ? Certainly. The 
reply came back in about ten minutes. It was to 
the effect that they had been handed to Burnett for 
one of the French delegates. Had Burnett, then, 
given them ? It was just possible that he had not. 
Kneeling by the body I ransacked the dead man's 
pockets. My worst fears were realized. In the breast- 
pocket of his coat lay the precious and forgotten 
missives ! My heart seemed to stop for the moment, 
and then beat with hammer strokes. I made a des- 
perate resolution. I must see Hartmann at all costs, 
and wring from him the permit and opportunity to 
descend. Doubtless it was entering the shambles 
of a desperate city, now being wrecked and pillaged 
by its own inhabitants ; it was entering the lion's 
den possibly only to find a victitn before becoming 
one myself ; but whatever risks I ran, honour scoffed 
at delay, and love winged me with ardour. 

" Tell the captain I must see him. Tell him the 
letter was never delivered, and that I must somehow 
find a means of speaking to him face to face." The 
answer came that he could not possibly see me, and 
that I must say through the telephone what I wanted, 
and that briefly. I shouted that I must at all costs 
descend. He replied that his plans were unalterable. 
F^entreated, I clamoured, I expostulated, pleading 


the friendship I had borne to his mother, and the 
possibility that she, too, had not yet stirred. His 
words to her had necessarily been more or less enig- 
matical. Let me, then, go and watch over the fate 
of her also. I had moved him, for there was a long 
pause. After what seemed ages of waiting came his 
reply. " The Attila cannot descend, but it crosses 
Hyde Park shortly. If the case is urgent, take my 
parachute. The fall will not be of more than five 
or six hundred feet." 

This alternative was gruesome, but there was no 
help for it. I wavered an instant and accepted. 
Shortly afterwards Norris appeared on deck, and 
bade me follow him into the citadel. I entered it, 
crouching low down to the deck with the fire of. the 
guns darting forth above me, and down the steep 
stair we went till we reached the door of the dyna- 
mite room. My guide pushed the door open and we 

A solitary electric lamp dispelled the gloom of the 
chamber and revealed the figures of Schwartz -and 
two other men standing by the trap-hole, now for the 
moment closed. I was struck with the caution with 
which their work, judging from appearances, was 
done. From a cabinet in the right-hand corner 
sloped a stoutly-made tube of network, well stayed 


by bands and roping to the ceiling. It was evidently 
along this that the dangerous bombs were guided, 
rolling into a bag-like compartment immediately over 
the trap. I had scarcely entered when the trap was 
lifted, the compartment lowered, its terrible passenger 
released, and the bag sharply pulled in. To forego 
a glance was impossible. I leant over the aperture 
and listened for the voice of the fatal messenger. It 
exploded near Oxford Street below us, apparently 
in a house, for the secondary rattle was tremendous, 
suggesting the crash of ruined walls on the road- 
way. Schwartz was about to launch another when 
a ting of the call-bell arrested him. He tele- 
phoned to Hartmann, and received the order to 
cease dropping bombs for the present. The reason 
was simple enough, they were about to utilize a 
new weapon, the petroleum, which up to this time 
had done duty only on the hideous occasion already 

Norris now stepped up to Schwartz and told him 
of my determination. The German's wicked eyes 

" Good. I, too, descend to-morrow, and we may 

" Better luck," I said bitterly ; " I have done with 
the Attila for ever." 


" So, ah ! you Socialists have much to learn. Well, 
we are teaching you something in London." 

I managed to keep rny temper, for these were not 
men to be played with. But how I would have liked 
to have hurled the miscreant down that trap-hole. 

Norris muttered that the mob might teach me 
something too, and I realized, then, that the descent 
was not my greatest danger. 

What if the parachute were to be seen by any 
one? I should be torn to pieces or worse. The 
possibility was an appalling one. Still the darkness 
would prove a very serviceable shield. Once clear 
of the Park, I could pilot myself through the streets 
without trouble. 

"Here, the captain sent you this revolver. You 
may need it to defend yourself, not thiat I care a 
cent. And now look sharp, we are coming over 
Park Lane in a minute." Norris pointed to the 
trap-hole, and I saw swinging at the side a long 

** What, climb down that .? " 

''Yes, if you want to go. There's no other take-off 
good enough. Come, yes or no, we shall be spinning 
across the Park before youVe done thinking.*' 

" But the parachute ?'' 

"There it is in the corner. It is a case, of clinging 


on with your hands. We will lower it to you, and 
at the word * Go/ drop it. The only risk is trees and 
the cursed vermin underneath. Will you go } " 

There was no help for it. I clenched my teeth 
savagely, and backed kneeling on to the edge of the 
trap-hole, grasping the bomb-tube with my left hand 
to steady myself. Schwartz and another man got 
ready the parachute and thrust its stem down the 
opening. It was lucky the Attila did not pitch, for 
these tactics might have proved my death-warrant. 
As it was, I succeeded in ^yorking my toes into the 
top, and thence into the lower rungs of the ladder. 
Having thus worked my way down I looked for the 
parachute, and transferred my left hand from the 
tube to the trap-edge. Slowly I climbed down ; 
the oscillations of the ladder were startling, and 
feeling for the rungs was a purgatory. At last I was 
clear of the well, and under the bottom of the aeronef 
hanging in a clear space between the huge wheels 
which studded it. *'Now*s your time !" yelled Norris, 
and I grabbed the rope-handles of the parachute 
fiercely — now with my right hand, then, as the ladder 
threatened to run away from under me, with my left. 
One look below — we were full over the Park, five 
hundred feet or so from the turf 

" Let go ! " I shouted, and flung my legs from the 





ladder on which they were resting obliquely. For 
a second and a half my heart seemed to leap into 
my mouth, for I fell as falls a spent rocket. Then 
with a welcome tug on me, the parachute bellied out, 
and fear gave place to confidence, nay, to exhilaration. 
What a spectacle ! Above me fled the Attila like 
some evil bird of night ; north, west, south, east rose 
the crimson hues of the smoke-wreaths; below I heard 
the clamours of the populace, and saw the darker 
tree-tops stand out against the dark face of the Park. 
The wind blowing strongly I was borne south near a 
patch of trees, and had reason to fear for the moment 
that a nasty mishap was imminent. Happily fortune 
favoured me, and gliding oilily and without shock to 
the ground, I made off rapidly in the direction of 



Thus far I had fared unexpectedly well. By the 
luckiest of chances I had alighted without having 
been observed, and this was the more remarkable 
seeing that the Park swarmed with noisy multitudes 
which I could not have sighted from the trap-hole. 
Not thirty yards from my landing-place some brawl 
or outrage was in progress, and the deep curses of 
men mingled with the shrieks and appeals of women 
told me that it was no mild one. As I neared the 
Bayswater Road, I came upon crowds of fugitives 
from the fire, and the almost equally cruel mob, now 
master of the streets. Delicate ladies and children, 
invalids shivering in their wraps, aristocrats, pluto- 
crats, and tradespeople were huddled into groups of 
the oddest imaginable composition. Many of the 
men carried weapons, and it was well for them and 
their convoys when they did so, for bands of ruffians 


were prowling round robbing, insulting, and murdering 
at random. One ravage brute rushed at me, but a 
seasonable click of my revolver sufficed to sober him. 
All this time I was being devoured by anxiety. The 
terrible licence here boded no good for Carshalton 
Terrace, always supposing the Northertons had 
received no benefit from the guarded hints given to 
Mrs. Hartmann. Bearing in mind my interview with 
the old lady, I had grave cause to fear that these 
hints had been far too vaguely worded, in which case 
nothing was more likely than that they had been 
ignored. Who, unless clearly warned, would have 
looked for a revolution so sudden and mysterious as 
this } Hartmann had wished to spare his mother 
new revelations during his short visit, but he had of 
course wished also to warn her of these impending 
horrors. He might have well fallen between two 
stools, and robbed his well-meant caution of the 
emphasis and impressiveness it called for. The 
upshot of the night proved that my fears were only 
too well founded. 

A bright light shot downwards from the sky on a 
patch of buildings which were immediately lapped 
in flames. I understood ; the drama was running into 
its third act ; the Attila, then soaring some two miles 
away over Kensington, had exchanged the role of 


dynamitard for that of an aerial pHroleuse, A more 
frightful conception had surely never entered the 
mind of man. All the more reason for despatch in 
case things had gone wrong at the Terrace. Hurriedly 
fighting my way out of the Park, I joined the tumult- 
uous yelling mob that flowed like a river in freshet 
along the Bayswater Road in the direction of Notting 
Hill. But what a gauntlet I had to run ! The 
mansions lining the thoroughfare were being looted 
by the dozen and their inmates shamefully maltreated 
or butchered, while in many places the hand of the 
incendiary was crowning the work of destruction. 
It was opposite these last-mentioned places that the 
struggles of the mob were most arduous. After a 
house had been alight for some time, the passage 
past it necessarily became dangerous, but owing to 
the steady pressure of the mass of people from 
behind, no one once entangled in the mob could 
hope to avoid it. Numberless deaths occurred by 
the mere forcing of the fringe of the crowd on to 
the red-hot pavements, and into the yellow and 
ruddy mouths of the outleaping jets of flame, and 
these deaths were terrible sights to witness. 

For myself I had seen from the first that the press 
could no more be stemmed by me than rapids can 
be stemmed by a cork. One could get into the 






stream easily enough, but getting free of it was quite 
out of the question. It was a case of navigating 
between Scylla and Charybdis. On the one side I 
saw men and women crushed, trampled on, and suffo- 
cated against the railings. On the other I saw 
scores forced into the flames which their own com- 
rades had kindled. The safest place was in the 
current that was now sweeping me along, a current 
which ran some three feet off the pavement on the 
left, a place fairly out of reach of the flames and 
blasts of heat from the houses on the opposite side. 
By dint of great efforts I managed to keep in this, 
though strong cross-currents often threatened my 
safety, and at last, sorely bruised and battered, with 
face scarlet with the scorching heat, found myself 
opposite the Queen's Road. Here I seized my 
opportunity and, working clear of the stream, 
dodged in among a thinner crowd, wearied, but still 
intent on my purpose. 

As I rushed in and out of the groups and files of 
self-absorbed people, I became aware that I should 
speedily be left almost alone. Thinner and thinner 
grew the groups, and the reason was easy to discover. 
Right ahead of me, from the Queen's Road Station 
downwards to Westbourne Grove, the streets on both 
sides were being fired by bands of red-capped ruffians 


followed by armed companies of marauders with their 
vilest passions unchained. Not a soldier, volunteer, 
or policeman was visible — the whole organization of 
society seemed to have fallen through. Ever and 
anon sharp revolver cracks and rifle reports testified 
to hideous scenes in these houses, and women, chased 
by flames, or even more cruel men, could be seen to 
rush shrieking into the street. I knew how severe 
a gauntlet had to be run, but, clutching my revolver, 
made a dash along the centre of the roadway. As 
I passed a shop vomiting clouds of smoke and sparks, 
a miserable woman rushed out and clung to my 
knees in a frenzy, entreating me for the love of 
heaven to save her. Even as she clung to me two 
of the red-caps dashed after in hot pursuit, but I 
lost no energy in parley. In less time than it takes 
to write of it, I shot them down, and leaving them 
bleeding and dying, dragged my charge into the 
centre of the roadway. 

" I can't stay ! " I shouted. " Work your way up 
the street into the crowd going to Shepherd's Bush. 
It's far safer there." Then, without waiting for a 
word, I plunged once more down the street — between 
the fiery houses glowing like coal under forced 
draught — between the incendiaries, the. butchers, and 
looters — over smoking stone-heaps and rafters — till 


with singed clothes and almost stifled with smoke I 
found myself in Westbourne Grove. Here I saw a 
terrified horse lying between the poles of a splintered 
cart. I was going to shoot h'm out of mercy, when 
the thought struck me that he might be useful. 
Hastily loosening the harness, I assisted the poor 
beast to rise, and leaping on his back galloped down 

the Grove Road. The windfall was indeed propitious. 
Within ten minutes I found myself on the pavement 
by Carshalton Terrace, where, tethering my steed to 
the area railings, I leaped up the steps to the door. 
Thank goodness! the district as yet was unharmed. 
Furiously I plied the knocker, beating the panels at 
the same time with my revolver-butt. Then I heard 


old Northerton shout angrily through the letter-slot, 
" Who\s there ? " 

" Stanley, Arthur Stanley," I answered del'riously, 
and the door instantly opened. One warm shake of 
the hands — " And your wife and Lena ? " 

" My wife is inside, but we are in a fever about the 
child. She has not returned, though she went out 
early this morning/' 

" Where, where ? " I clamoured excitedly. " D'you 
know the streets are shambles ? '' 

" My God ! yes ; but where she has gone we can't 
tell. Her maid heard her say that she went to sec 
an old lady in Islington, but nothing " 

" What ! Islington ! Are you sure of this ? " 

" Yes, why ? " 

"Because I know the place. Now, cheer up. 
There's no call for panic ; I'll start at once. — No, I 
must run the gauntlet alone — horse outside waiting — 
no good burdening him with two riders." 

" Godspeed." 

I was out of the hall in a moment, and in another 
had untethered and sprung upon the horse; A wave 
of the hand to Northerton, and the road began to 
rush away under me. 



Of the details of this ride I need hardly speak. 
Anxious to avoid the rioters, I steered my course by 
as northerly a curve as was practicable. The street 
lamps were, of course, 
unlighted, but the glow of 
innumerable fires reflected 
from every window, and 
beaten downwards by the 
crimson clouds overhead, 
was now turning night 
into day. As I galloped ""'"^Ml 

through the streets of 
Marylebone, 1 caught a 

glimpse of the Atliia wheeling far away over what 
seemed to be Kensington. But of the few awkward 
incidents I can scarcely now remember one ; my chief 
enemy indeed was a poignant anxiety about Lena. 


It must have been ten o'clock by the time I galloped 
into Islington, tired, hungry, and unkempt, but de- 
voured by emotions which sternly forbade a halt. 

Five minutes brought me to the villa, and throwing 
the reins over the railing, I pushed the gate aside 
and entered. The door of the house was open, and 
the sound of voices came from within. Revolver in 
hand I entered, but a glance dispelled my apprehen- 
sions. The little room so familiar to me was full of 
terrified women, with here and there a sturdy workman 
among them. At my entrance there was something 
like a panic, but I speedily reassured the company. 

'* Where are Miss Northerton and the old lady.?" 
was my first question after soothing the tumult. A 
sister of charity came forward.. 

" Up-stairs. Do you bring any message ? Mrs. 
Hartmann, I must tell you, is dying." 

'^But Miss .?" 

" Is safe and in attendance upon her." 

A wave of delight rolled through me. How selfish 
we all are ! The news about Mrs. Hartmann weighed 
as nothing with me for the minute. 

" Can I send a message to the young lady ? " 

" Is it important ? " 

" Very." 

'' Then I will take it myself." 


I scribbled a few words on a scrap of paper and 
handed it to the sister, who immediately left the room. 
I had not long to wait before she returned, saying 
that the lady would see me up-stairs. 

I was shown up to the sick-room, where Lena was 
sitting by the bedside. She greeted me with a regard 
chastened by the gravity of the occasion. After a 
moment's delay, I stepped up to the bed and looked 
at the patient. She had been unconscious, so they 
told me, for some time, and was now dying rapidly. 
A few hurried whispered words told the story. Mrs. 
Hartmann had gone to Westminster with Lena on the 
fatal morning of the previous day, to witness the great 
labour demonstration, and the old lady had been 
brutally trampled in Parliament Street by the mob. 
Indeed, but for a company of volunteers who 
succeeded in momentarily beating back the rush, 
both ladies would have perished, said the sister. 
Mrs. Hartmann, thus barely snatched from death, had 
felt well enough to struggle back to Islington with 
Lena, having, after an hour of weary waiting, and 
at great expense, procured a cart and driver. Every- 
thing seemed on the high-road to chaos, and the 
return was only accomplished after great risks had 
been run from the mob. Things looked better, how- 
ever, when they managed to get out of the more 


central districts, and ultimately they reached the villa 
in safety, considerably surprised at the relatively quiet 
state of the neighbourhood. Soon after entering the 
house, however, Mrs. Hartmann was attacked by 
violent pains and nausea, and on the advent of a friendly 
doctor it was found that she had sustained the most 
grave internal injuries. Haemorrhage set in later, and 
she rapidly became worse. Before becoming uncon- 
scious she had dicated a letter for her son (nobody 
knew that he was alive, added my informant), and had 
desired Lena to hand it to me for transmission. Very 
pathetic in character, it narrated the facts here re- 
corded, and ended with " a last appeal " to him from 
a "dying mother" to better his dark and misguided 

Poor lady, she little knew who her son really was, 
and how he had himself unwittingly hurried her to 
the grave. 

Mrs. Hartmann passed away about an hour later. 
Lena and I reverently kissed the aged and venerable 
forehead, and paid the last tributes to our friend. 
Then leaving the death-chamber, I took Lena into a 
morning room and acquainted her with my extra- 
ordinary experiences since we had parted. She 
listened with the keenest interest, and was appalled 
to think that Hartmann — the anarchist assailant of 


London — could be the son of the poor harmless lady 
whose body lay so still in the adjoining chamber. 
Sometimes indeed she seemed quite unable to follow 
me, and bent searching glances on me as if to make 
sure that I was not after all romancing. No doubt 
my tale sounded fantastic ; but conceive the man 
who could ** romance" on so peculiarly solemn an 
occasion ! 

" But did you not see the aeronef yourself ? " I asked. 

" No, we were hopelessly jammed up in the crowd 
near Whitehall. The wildest rumours were afloat, 
fires were breaking out everywhere, cannon booming, 
and the mob breaking into shops and stores. It was 
impossible to see far owing to the smoke." 

A bright trail of light flashed down the heavens to 
the south-west. 

"Look, Lena! look! there is the Attila itself! 
Now will you believe me } " The deluge of fire had 
not yet ceased to fall ! We stood riveted with horror 
to the window. 

" Do you see the search-light glowing on her bow 
— the blazing petroleum splashing down from her 
sides on to the house-tops } Ah \ there will be a pretty 
story to tell of this in the morning." 

Lena could only gasp in answer. The Attila with 
her one electric eye stood out sharply against the 


crimson-hued clouds, with trails of fire lengthening 
put behind her. And as the burning liquid fell, one 
could see the flames from the gutted houses leap 
upwards as if to greet it. Whole acres of buildings 
were ablaze, and one dared not think what that 
deluge must mean for the desperate mobs below. 
And no human art could avail here. In this extra- 
ordinary vessel the vices and powers of man had been 
brought to a common focus. The Attila seemed mad 
with the irresponsibility of strength, and yet to the 
captain of that fell craft, now suspended in mid-air 
over the doomed city, I had somehow to transmit 
the letter of his dead mother. The thought struck 
us both at once. 

" What about that letter } " said Lena, as we watched 
the destructive gyrations of the aeronef. I took it 
from her hand reverentially. 

" I shall do my best to deliver it. One of the crew " 
(I remembered Schwartz' remark) " is likely to descend 
shortly. Possibly I may meet him. If not, I must 
wait for my chance. Believe me, Lena, this letter, if 
I can ever deliver it, will prove the most terrible 
retribution possible. And now we must be off; your 
parents are seriously alarmed, and fOr their sakes you 
must ride back with me without delay." 

« # 4K 4K 4( 


It was late in the morning when I snatched a 
broken rest at the Northcrtons'. But in seeking my 
sofa — it was far too terrible a time to think of bed — 
I had at least the consolation that Lena was restored 
safe and sound to her father and mother, and last, 
and perhaps not least, to myself. It seemed, too, 
that we could detect some lull in the fury of the con- 
flagration, though to what this was due we were 
unable, of course, to ascertain. Lull, however, or no 
lull, caution was still indispensable, and old Norther- 
ton and the butler, armed to the teeth, kept a dreary 
vigil till the morning broke in sullenness. 



It was late when I came down-stairs to learn what 
the night had brought forth. Mrs. Northerton was 
kindness itself, and persisted in regarding me as Lena's 
heroic rescuer, whereas I had really done nothing 
which entitled me to distinction. Our midnight ride 
had been only that of two people on one horse, for no 
molestation whatever had been offered us. Still, 
taking time by the forelock, I suggested that the 
rescuer had some claim on the lady, and, finally, re- 
vealed our secret at the true psychological moment. 
Mrs. Northerton said she had long looked forward 
to the union, and that her husband had been quite 
as sagacious as herself. She was only sorry that 
things looked so black around us. How would all 
this anarchy end ? It was scarcely a time to think 
of Hymen. For aught we could tell we might all be 


beggared, or possibly even butchered, to make an 
anarchist's holiday. 

The story of my adventures was retold in detail, 
and the astonishment of my hearers at the revelations 
knew no bounds. They had wondered greatly at my 
absence, but were now of opinion that to have sailed 
the air in the Attila was a privilege the historian 
would grudge me. I replied that the spectacle of 
the great massacre was so far from being a privilege^ 
that the bare memory of it horrified me. Had I 
known exactly what to expect, I should have accepted 
Hartmann's offer and have been promptly landed 

My narrative having come to an end, we were 
speculating on the outlook, when a tramp of feet 
arrested us, and all four of us rushed simultaneously 
to the window. Good cheer ! A regiment of volun- 
teers was marching briskly towards the Park, their 
bayonets flashing brightly in the sunlight. Was there 
a reaction ? Had the forces of order rallied } Had 
the progress of the Attila been checked } In a very 
short time I was in the street, greedy for information. 
Accosting an officer, I asked him what was the news. 
He said that the aeronef had ceased dropping petro- 
leum, that a vigorous reaction had taken place, that 
the conflagrations were partly checked, while the 


anarchists and rioters were being driven mercilessly 
from the streets with bullet and cold sted. Without 
more ado I ran back into the house, and, shouting the 
good tidings to old Northerton, enlisted him forthwith 
for an expedition. Our plan of campaign was speedily 
agreed upon. We would make our way to Hyde Park, 
and find out all about the destruction of last night 
from the crowds who would be sure to gather there. 

Mrs. Northerton and Lena protested, as was only 
to be expected, but very little attention, I am afraid, 
was paid to them. Taking a satchel of provisions 
and a couple of flasks of claret with us, we left the 
ladies to brood over our temerity at their leisure. 
One thing must be added. Though it seemed im- 
probable that chances would favour me, I stuffed into 
my breast-pocket poor Mrs. Hartmann's last letter. 
It certainly would not be my fault if her fiendish son 
failed to get it, and having got it to relish it. 

We followed the regiment for a while till West- 
bourne Grove was reached. The heat, smoke, and 
dust here were intolerable, and whole clumps of build- 
ings were still merrily blazing. Every now and then 
the crack of rifles could be heard, and we knew that 
somewhere or other justice was being summarily 
administered. At this point a stranger, evidently a 
gentleman, stepped up and asked us if we had heard 


the latest. We answered that both the events of the 
night and early morning were for the most part 
unknown to us. Thereupon he stated that all through 
the night fires were being kindled in every direction 
by the aeronef. It had been discovered, too, that 
hundreds, if not thousands, of confederates were push- 
ing on this abominable work below, and that these 
by inciting the mob to violence had greatly assisted 
to swell the terrible list of catastrophes. He added 
that the aeronef had drawn off awhile and was wheel- 
ing idly around the Park in wide circles, occasionally 
discharging her guns whenever the crowds grew 
dense. Meantime, order had been partially restored 
— the military, albeit many soldiers were suspected of 
complicity, had been called out ; the police, at first 
helpless, had rallied ; and volunteer regiments and 
special police corps were pouring on to the different 
scenes of action. Anarchists and rioters were being 
shot down in batches, and it was believed that all 
co-operation with the aeronef from below had been 
at last practically extirpated. Then came an an- 
nouncement which moved me to barely repressed 
excitement. The aeronef during the early morning 
had been seen to descend in the Park and to deposit 
four men, subsequently rising to her old altitude. 
The police were now searching for them in all 


directions, and it was said that their arrest was 

" Did you hear of the balloon attack ? " continued 
our communicative informant. 

'* No," we replied in unison, deeply interested. 

"Well, some time after midnight, the thought 
occurred to Bates, the aeronaut, that this aeronef 
might possibly be fought in her own element. In the 
grounds of the Military Exhibition in South Kensing- 
ton was the balloon used for visitors' ascents. Pro- 
viding himself with a rifle and three well-charged 
bombs — a terribly risky thing no doubt, but look at 
the emergency ! — he had the silk inflated, and, the 
wind suiting, rose up steadily, meaning to get above 
his opponent, and, if possible, shatter her with his 
missiles. Unfortunately the blaze rushing up from 
a newly-fired group of mansions revealed the daring 
aeronaut. It was a pretty, if a terrible picture — the 
little balloon drifting up towards the mighty aeronef 
in the glow of those blazing roofs." 

" Did he get near enough to throw i " 

"No, poor fellow. A journalist who was below 
with a night-glass says that he never had even a 
chance. One of the men on the deck of the aeronef 
pulled out a revolver and fired, and the balloon, 
pierced through and through, at once began to descend 

kK^t " 


rapidly. On its reaching the ground with a shock in 

Earl's Court Road, the bombs exploded, and the car 

and its plucky occupant were shattered to pieces." 

" Poor chap. A wild attempt, but rats in a hole 

cannot be particular," said old Northerton. 

Thanking our informant heartily we moved hastily 

on, both eager to see something of the movements of 

the terrible vessel. 

The landing of the four nrien did not perplex me 

for long ; Schwartz, as I knew, had been prepared to 

descend. But why four in this enterprise for which 

one alone had been originally told off.^ 

The solution which suggested itself to me was this. 

Despite the devastation he had caused, Hartmann 

was very dissatisfied with the result. His vast outlay 

of material had not effected the ruin of one-fifth part 

of the great city, while in all probability the resources 

of the Attila were becoming somewhat strained. 

Relatively to her size these resources were undoubtedly 

slender, and it was requisite, accordingly, to devise 

some new and less costly mode of attack. Of the 

lull in the work of the incendiaries Hartmann must 

have got wind, but not knowing the cause of it, and 

anxious to secure a redoubled activity below — now so 

indispensable to his success — he had despatched four 

of the crew to fan their energies into fury. That 



their efforts would be futile was now certain enough ; 
the problematical part of the affair was the supposition 
that they would ever get back to their baflfled leader 
at all. Probably they were now bitterly regretting 
their temerity, if, indeed, they had not been shot 
against the wall by the furious restorers of order. 

Just then a squad of soldiers passed by escorting 
some incendiaries, whose faces filthy with grime and 
brutal to a degree filled us with loathing and anger. 
They were to be shot in a neighbouring mews, and, if 
the accounts we heard were reliable, richly deserved 
their fate. What kicks their captors were giving them ! 
The faces seemed unfamiliar to me, all alike of a low 
grade of ruffianism such as every great city breeds, 
but which never declares its strength till the day of 
weakness arrives. But suddenly one of the wretches, 
who lagged somewhat behind the rest, received a 
sharp cuff from a soldier, and in the volley of curses 
that followed I recognized a well-known and long- 
detested voice. It was that of Michael Schwartz, who,^ 
bruised, handcuffed, befouled with grime and dirt, 
was being driven like a bullock to a slaughter-house. 
How savage a despair must have goaded him in the 
last few minutes of his dark and damnable life! I 
turned away with a shudder, glad however to think 
that this fiend at least was no longer to cumber the 


ground. Might the three other men of his party 
meet with the same luck ! 

After half-an-hour*s walk we found ourselves in 
Hyde Park. Our informant had not misled us. 
High above the sward circled the Attila^ her graceful 
flight and vast bulk, her silvery-grey sides and pro- 
jecting aeroplane, her long ruddy flag streaming over 
the screw-blades, her ram-like horned bow, and above 
all, her now hideous repute, rendering her a weirdly 
conspicuous object. Old Mr. Northerton's face was 
a picture ; the look he bent on me was one of uncon- 
cealed and almost childish wonder at the aeronef and 
of deep respect for his would-be son-in-law, who had 
actually trodden its deck. He seemed fascinated by 
the wondrous air vessel, and lamented loudly that 
its conception should have lodged in so unworthy and 
fiendish a mind. 

" Think what a good man might have effected for \ 
his kind, for their creature-comforts and commerce, |l o 
for the cause of civilization, science, and culture. An 
fleet of such ships would rend er England ^monarch I \ 
of the nations and arm her with power to sweep 4way I \ 
V^ hordes of monstrous iniquities. War could be finally V 
stamped out, and universal arbitration substituted 
for it." 

" Until France or Russia began to launch similar 


t ^^ r 

A rv • 


fleets/* I added, for it seemed clear enough that 
nations who could fight with armies and ironclads 
would have no insuperable prejudice against fighting 
with air-ships. If only one nation possessed these 
aeronefs she would, doubtless, silence the rest, but in 
actual practice inventions of this character cannot be 
permanently kept secret. 

There were very few persons in the Park, for the 
dread of the aeronef was universal. Her guns 
dexterously singled out crowds, hence no one wished 
to recruit them, and any symptom of their formation 
in the neighbourhood speedily corrected itself. Out- 
side the railings, indeed, there were plenty of onlookers, 
but there the military patrolled the streets, and bodies 
of mounted police vigorously seconded their efforts. 
I was told by a bystander that severe fighting was 
going on in East London, but that nothing serious of 
late was reported from the West End. This sounded 
all very well, but what if the Attila was once more to 
re-open fire } How about the restoration of order 
then } Would regiments clear the streets under bomb 
fire ?* would police hunt down incendiaries in the teeth 
of petroleum showers.^ The man admitted that in 
that case chaos must follow, but, nevertheless, he 
reckoned the vessel was emptied. 

**She can't hold much more stuff at any rate." 


The reed was unfortunately slender, as he had 
shortly cause to discover. 

I was gazing at the stray onlookers around us when 
a strange group caught my eye. Two men had just 
entered the Park, followed by a third, with his hat 
pulled well forward over his brow. The two men in 
advance were talking excitedly, and pointed at inter- 
vals to the aeronef. Something in their faces riveted 
my attention, and, as they came nearer, I recognized 
Norris among them, ay, and the villainous Thomas 
himself was bringing up the rear. What were they 
doing here at such an hour ? My notion was that 
their mission had completely failed, that their associ- 
ates were being shot down, and that they were now 
seeking a haven from danger in the Attzla. But was 
it possible that they could be embarked in the broad 
light of day in the face of crowd, police, and military } 
Were they even expected back so early from the 
fulfilment of their task } Whatever the explanation 
might be — one thing was clear, the chance for my 
letter had come ! As Norris passed me I looked him 
full in the face — he grew pale as death, and I saw 
him feel spasmodically for his revolver. Evidently 
he thought that I should denounce him, and was 
prepared to die biting. Of course no semblance of 
such a plan had crossed my mind. Hateful to me as 


were these anarchists, they had treated me well on 
the Attila^ and with them I had once amicably broken 
salt Honour shielded even the enemies of the human 
race from such a scurvy return. 

Brushing past Norris I whispered: "A letter — for 
the captain," stuffing it dexterously into his hand at 
the same time. This action passed wholly unnoticed 
even by Norris' companions, while the worthy ex- 
Commissioner was far too well absorbed in the aeronef 
to mark my brief departure from his side. Norris 
himself passed on hurriedly, directing his steps to the 
central portion of the Park. I watched the three 
anarchists till they reached an almost deserted spot, 
about four hundred yards off, and it then became 
evident that they were bent on signalling to the Attila, 
For aught I knew Hartmann in his conning-tower 
was even now sweeping the sward with his powerful 

I saw Norris produce something out of the breast 
of his coat, and fuddle eagerly about it with his com- 
panions. The anarchists then lay down on the grass, 
and seemed to be awaiting some answer. It was 
some time, however, before I seized the true rendering 
of their conduct, and but for a stray yellow gleam 
showing up between Norris and one of the others I 
should not have seized it at all. The device adopted 


was simple. The gallant three were evidently being 
waited and watched for. To ensure notice they 
had agreed to exhibit a large yellow flag, and for 
security's sake they had unrolled this at full length 
on the grass, lying round it at the same time so as to 
screen it from observation. The problem remaining 
over was, how the Attila was to get them safely on 
board. She was, perhaps, two hundred and fifty feet 
above them at the moment, and the difficulty in such 
a situation seemed almost insuperable. 

Suddenly a cry from Mr. Northerton arrested me. 
The aeronef was curving swiftly in and out, so as to 
trace a sort of descending spiral. Then when nearly 
over the flag she stopped almost dead, and seemed 
to be falling rapidly. 

'^It's falling! it's falling!" yelled Mr. Northerton. 

But I knew better, that fall was adjusted by the 

The Attila sank slowly to the ground. The police, 
military, and spectators outside and inside the railing 
rushed forward to the scene with loud cries of exulta- 
tion. All were seized with the desire to be in at the 
death, to vent their rage on the foe who now seemed 
to have lost his might. It was with the greatest 
trouble that I held Mr. Northerton back. He was 
carried away by the sight of the thousands streaming 


into the Park, and converging in masses on the fallen 
monster. They were now close up. Several rifle- 
cracks told that the soldiers to the fore were already 
hotly engaged, were perhaps striving to storm the 

And then came a dread disenchantment. 



As the rabble closed on the aeronef, she gave a 
huge heave, her bow swinging over her assailants like 
the tilted arm of a see-saw. Next, the stern cleared 
the turf and the colossus rose majestically, rolling, the 
while like some ship riding at anchor. The gnats 
who clung to her bottom and gallery dropped off 
confusedly, and the whole multitude in her neighbour- 
hood seemed bewildered with surprise and terror. 
Suddenly the Attila was enveloped in flame and 
smoke ; the roar of her big pieces mingling with the 
cracks of the machine-guns and the rifle fire that 
spirted from the loop-holes in her armour. Lanes were 
cut in the crowd in all directions, and a veritable hail 
of bullets whistled past the spot where we stood, 
many even claiming their victims around us. Dis- 
cretion, not valour, was our choice. We made wildly 
for the outlets toward which a screaming mob rushed 


behind us, and, once through them, made our way 
rapidly down the street Having run some few 
hundred yards we stopped, and saw with dismay how 
narrow had been our escape. The Aitila was still 
rising majestically with her machine and quick-firing 
guns playing on the multitude as a hose plays on 
flames. The wretched victims were fighting for 
the blocked gates and outlets like creatures possessed, 
bloody gaps opened and shut in their midst, and 
heaps of butchered and trampled bodies tripped up 
the frantic survivors in batches as they ran. The din 
was simply unearthly ; the picture as a whole in- 
describable, not being set off by two or three easily 
detachable features, but so compositely appalling in 
its details as to baffle the deftest pen. It lingers still 
vividly in my memory. The cloudy pall above, the 
still smoking and ruined houses opposite the Park, 
the heaving crowd with its multitudinous detail of 
slaughter, suffocation, and writhings, the smoke-clad 
hull of the Attila^ as it rose in angry majesty, its top 
peering like the Matterhorn through clouds — these 
were fraught with a fascination that held us enthralled. 
The sight would have moved the pity of a Borgia, and 
glutted to the full the morbid aestheticism of a Nero. . 
But the massacre was as short as it was swift. 
When the aeronef had- reached the height of one 


«'. '. 

/ i: 

*■■> 9 


> . * 

J* < 


hundred and fifty feet she suddenly ceased firing, and 
began once more to circle with albatross-like grace 
in the path she had previously favoured. What was 
the motive for this strange suspension of hostilities ? 
Possibly her munitions were failing, and the thought 
of departure with his grim project unaccomplished 
had forced Hartmann to husband his resources and 
await some novel opportunities for mischief at night. 
His state of mind, however, must have been even at 
that moment unenviable. That he had yet received 
the fatal letter might, or might not, be the case. But 
quite apart from this thunderbolt, he had a gloomy 
prospect to brood over. The failure of his artillery 
and petroleum to effect the ruin he had contemplated 
was in itself — from his standpoint — a catastrophe, 
while the extirpation of the anarchist rising below 
rendered his very security dubious. Of the success 
or defeat of the Continental anarchists we had as yet 
heard nothing, owing to the disorganization of the usual 
channels of information, but, seeing that the attack 
in London had failed, it was highly probable that 
it had withered away utterly in places where there 
was no Attila to back it. In this event the situation 
of Hartmann would be precarious. Defiant of human 
effort as seemed the aeronef, it was, nevertheless, to a 
large extent dependent on the maintenance of its 


communications with society — communications which 
had hitherto been kept up with the various Continental 
anarchist groups. Coals, provisions, gas, munitions 
of all sorts had to be allowed for. But in the debacle 
of modern anarchism and complete exposure of its 
secrets, things might come to such a pass that the 
Attila would be altogether without a basis, deprived 
of which her death from inanition was a mere ques- 
tion of time. Here was a fine opportunity for the 
Governments, an opportunity which could not well 
have escaped the acute vision of Hartmann. Ah, 
well, we should see. 

At this stage my speculations were cut short by a 
rush of fugitives down the street, and, unable to breast 
the torrent, we took the wisest course and flowed with 
it. Some way further on, however, the panic began 
to ease down, then slowly died away, until many 
stopped outright to gaze on the destroyer which sailed 
so contemptuously above them. Some even found 
their way back to the Park, anxious to do what they 
could for the hundreds of wounded and dying wretches 
who littered the sward for an area of at least three 
hundred square yards, and whose cries would have 
shocked the denizens of Malebolge. 

We were about to do the same when the road was 
summarily cleared by police, and all further access to 


the scene prohibited. We were protesting against 
this usage when a voice was heard — apparently from 
one of the rooms of one of the few uninjured houses 

*' Hi ! here, is that you, Northerton ? Come in, man 
come in." I looked up and saw leaning from a 
window an elderly gentleman whom I recognized as 
a frequent visitor at Carshalton Terrace. We accepted 
forthwith this very seasonable invitation, and mount- 
ing the steps, were ushered into a cosy drawing-room 
where we found the whole family assembled. 

The old gentleman, whose name was Wingate, 
could talk of nothing, of course, but the one absorbing 
subject, the Attila and her depredations. An atten- 
tive circle surrounded us as we recounted the story 
of the last shameful massacre. 

" The ship, or whatever you call it, seems quiet 
, again," observed our host. 

" A calm before a storm I am afraid ; I dread to 
think what this night may have in store for us." 

" And I too. My idea of the respite is simply this 
— they are waiting till darkness comes on, and will 
take merciless advantage of the facilities it offers for 
the creation of panics and confusion." 

" I hear," continued Mr. Wingate, " that the fires 
are being got under control, but that Westminster, 



Southwark, Brompton, Kensington, the City, and 
adjoining districts are no better than smoking ruins ! 
Heaven shield us from this monster ! " 

" By the way," I put in, ** have you a good glass 
here ? There goes the destroyer almost within hail." 

*' Yes ; there's a capital one up-stairs which used to 
do duty at sea when I was a yachtsman. Come 
up-stairs and try it." 

I followed him out of the room, leaving my future 
u;^ father-in- la\y with the ladies. 
y^ Mr. Wingate took me into the bedroom immediately 
above, and drawing a leather case from the shelf 
produced a capital instrument. He had a long look 
first, but complained of the difficulty of following the 
movements of the aeronef. He then handed it to me 
to report, if possible, better results. Lifting the 
window I lay back on the floor agaii/ t: the side of 
the bed, and, steadying the barrel on the edge of the 
dressing-table, managed to obtain an excellent view. 

" Do you see anything } " 

" Yes, she's turning our way. Ah ! that's better. 
How delicate this glass is ! " 

I then described to him the prominent parts of the 
Attila more or less in detail. 

" Is the deck crowded } " 

* No ; there are several men round the battery near 


the citadel, but the rest of the deck is deserted. 
Here, try again. The view now is splendid." 

The glass once more changed hands. 

" What a sight ! " ejaculated my companion, having 
succeeded in " spotting '' the acironef. " Why, I can 
see the whole thing just as if it was only across the 
road. Just as you described it, too. By the way, 
there is a solitary individual pacing the for^-deck 
frantically. He seems terribly excited about some- 
thing. More mischief doubtless." 

" Describe him ! " I cried eagerly. 

" Easier said than done," — he had said a moment 
before that the whole thing was as clear as if it was 
only across the road, — " but he seems very tall, rather 
dark, with a thick black beard, and he holds some 
letter in his hand, which he kisses and then brandishes 

" Hartmann, by all that's holy ! " Vindictively I 
bethought me of the letter, and the miserable reports 
of failure which Norris and his men must have, 

" I should say he is the captain or some other boss 
in authority, for, see, a gunner comes up and salutes 
him. Ha, he must be angry ! He dismisses the 
man fiercely, and seems once more to devour the 


" Go on, go on ! " 

" He steps to the railing and shakes his fist at the 
City below. Now he seems to be deliberating, for he 
remains perfectly still, looking every now and then 
at the letter or document. How beside himself with 
anger he seems ! He dashes his fist on the railing, 
now he strides across the deck and stalks through the 
surprised gunners to the citadel. I feel sure some- 
thing terrible is brewing." 

Ha, captain of the Attila ! Smart under the lash 
of Nemesis ! Matricide and murderer, writhe ! You 
felt not for the thousands sacrificed for a theory; 
feel now for the report of your plans wrecked 
beyond hope of repair. Feel, too, for a loved mother, 
the sole creature you ever cared for, but whom 
your reckless and futile savagery has immolated ! 
Hater of your race, terrible indeed has been your 
penalty ! 

" Hallo ! he comes up again with a revolver in 
each hand. He closes the gate of the outer wall of 
the citadel, and seems to harangue the crew. Is he 
mad or what } He fires one of the revolvers, and a 
man drops. A mutiny ! a mutiny ! I see the men 
rushing up like fanatics. They climb the wall, he 
shooting the while. Ha ! he rushes into the citadel, 
and closes the inner door sharply. They try to 



follow him, but cannot ! " After a long pause — " Stay, 

they have broken the door open, and rush " 

A flash that beggared the levin bolt, a crash 
shattering the window-panes and deadening the car, 
a shock hurling us both on our backs, broke the 
utterance. Then thundered down a shower of massive 
fragments, fragments of the vast ship Whose decks I 
had once trodden. Hartmann, dismayed with the 
failure of his plans and rendered desperate by the 
letter, had blown up the Attila ! The news of his 
failure and the message of a dying woman had done 
what human hatred was too impotent even to hope 

Ik Ik Ik if: ^ 

But little more remains to be said. You are con- 
versant with the story of the next few days. You 
know also how order was once more completely re- 
established, how the wreckage of that fell twenty-four 
hours was slowly replaced by modern buildings, how 
gradually the Empire recovered from the shock, and 
how dominant henceforth became the great problems 
of labour. My own connection with these latter was 
not destined to endure. After my marriage with 
Lena, my interests took a different turn. Travel and 
literary studies left no room for the surlier duties of 
the demagogue. Writing from this quiet German 


retreat I can only hope that my brief narrative will 
prove of some interest to you. It has not been my 
aim to write history. I have sought to throw light 
only on one of its more romantic corners, and if I 
have succeeded in doing so, the whole purpose of my 
efforts will have been accomplished. 




Richfird day ^ Sotis, Limited^ LoHticni &» Bitns^t^y. 


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October 1893. 




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